27 Things to Know About Climate Change Ahead of COP27 — By the Numbers
Climate change’s impact, its solutions, and the financial implications of both will be front and center as key decision makers descend upon Sharm el-Shiekh, Egypt, for the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) next month. Yet even after nearly three decades of COP, businesses, organizations and individuals alike still do not understand the urgency required or the level of action needed to address the existential problem of climate change.
Like in many cases, knowledge is power — the more you know about climate change and its impacts, the more you can take proactive steps to help us collectively keep global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Cool Effect is dedicated to helping spread awareness of our warming planet, so with COP just around the corner, we’re sharing 27 key statistics that everyone should know about climate change.
First, let’s look at some noteworthy facts about climate change’s impact on our environment.
1. Sea level has risen 4 inches since 1993.
2. We currently lose 427 billion metric tons of sea ice each year.
3. 70 to 90 percent of coral reefs could disappear even if average temperatures remain under 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) of global warming. At 2 degrees of warming, nearly all of them — 99 percent — would vanish.
4. Permafrost stores almost twice the amount of carbon that is currently in the atmosphere.
5. If 20–25% of the Amazon is deforested, it could turn the Amazon into a savannah, and 15 -17% has already disappeared.
6. The Amazon Rainforest currently sequesters an estimated 150–200 billion tons of carbon.
7. Humans pumped 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2021, more than any other year on record.
8. There is currently more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any time in at least 4 million years.
And while the impact on the environment is clear, data shows us that it’s not just our environment we should be concerned about — climate change is also impacting people and our communities, but it doesn’t impact them all equally.
9. 3.3 billion to 3.6 billion people — nearly half of humankind — are “highly vulnerable” to climate change today.
10. Close to 1 billion people in 48 African nations have only caused 0.55 percent of total atmospheric CO2.
11. Cities create 75% of global CO2 emissions, with buildings being one of the biggest contributors.
12. In large cities, the average number of heat waves per year has tripled since the 1960s.
13. One in four cities around the world lack the money to protect themselves against the ravages of climate breakdown, even though more than 90 percent are facing serious risks.
We can’t rely on the hope that technology will magically fix a problem this massive — government policy and intervention is critical. Many of the world’s largest nations can trace their effects on global warming, and the United States’ contribution alone is discouraging.
14. More than 80% of proposed commercial carbon-capture efforts around the world have failed.
15. In 2009, a new solar farm cost 223% more than a new coal plant. Today, those numbers have roughly flipped.
16. The high end estimate for climate damage by 2100 is $551 trillion, which is more money than currently exists.
17. If U.S. airlines alone were a country, they’d rank sixth in the world as the biggest greenhouse-gas emitters.
18. The United States’ carbon emissions per capita are roughly twice that of China and seven times that of India.
19. The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its defense operations alone than industrialized countries such as Sweden and Portugal.
20. Thankfully, the nation is making steps in the right direction — the newly passed Inflation Reduction Act contains $369 billion in climate focused funding, namely for clean energy and electric vehicle tax breaks, domestic manufacturing of batteries and solar panels, and pollution reduction.
Again, knowledge is power. In each of our efforts to be environmentally conscious global citizens, it’s important to be aware that a number of key industries have historically and continue to play a significant role in accelerating climate change.
21. Fossil fuel companies spend $200 million annually to block and weaken climate policy — they had a delegation larger than that of any country at COP26.
22. Just 553 steel plants are responsible for 9% of global CO2 emissions.
23. Nearly one-fifth of all the energy sector’s emissions are methane — a powerful gas with 30 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide.
24. Landfills are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the US, and food waste is the largest category of garbage.
And while these figures help us understand the urgency of our current climate’s situation, it’s important to also recognize and celebrate the progress that we have made. Here’s a look at some encouraging statistics surrounding the progress and impact that Cool Effect has made since its founding at COP21 in 2015.
25. Cool Effect hit major milestones in 2022, including our Breath of Fresh Air project which hit 260,000 stoves built with the support from the sale of carbon offsets!
26. Since first launching at COP21, Cool Effect has built a community of 500,000+ supporters spanning individuals, organizations and businesses.
27. As a result of the collective action of those supporters, Cool Effect has retired over five million tonnes of carbon emissions, resulting in over $36 million being directed to the developing world since launching at COP21.
These figures reinforce that through collective action we can reverse the effects of climate change and create an environment in which we and future generations can prosper for centuries to come. If you’re looking to join us in this fight, contribute to Cool Effect’s portfolio of high-quality carbon-reducing projects across the globe and rest assured that your donation is making a tangible impact on climate change.