Module 1

Area of Expertise

What is Climate Change?

The term ‘climate change’ refers to a significant and lasting change in weather patterns for temperatures, precipitation levels and wind.  It is important to understand that weather systems know a considerable amount of natural variation: no two days are the same, and a limited number of ‘extreme weather events’ such as record temperatures, periods of drought and floods can and do occur within this standard range. 

We speak of climate change only when we observe changes that fall outside of that natural variation - in other words, changes that indicate a departure from the established weather system.  These changes can take the form of higher or lower average indicators (for example a regional temperature rise), but may also include significant increases in extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heat waves.  

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Discussion Questions

-  Ask your participants to describe climate change in their own words.  How would they explain climate change to their fellow MPs, or to their constituents? 

- Ask your participants what impacts of climate change they have experienced in their own communities. Have there been gradual changes, or extreme events?  How do they expect their environment to change in the coming years? 

- Are participants identifying similar challenges, or are there notable differences? Do different constituencies have different problems?  Overall, what appear to be the most pressing challenges?

Parliamentary Action Points
  • Who's Who: Climate Change and Energy in Parliament
  • Invite an Expert
  • Organise induction sessions
  • Educating citizens on climate change
  • Ask parliamentary questions

Further Resources

Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4C Warmer World Must Be Avoided

This report provides a snapshot of recent scientific literature and new analyses of likely impacts and risks that would be associated with a 4° Celsius warming within this century. It is a rigorous attempt to outline a range of risks, focusing on developing countries and especially the poor.

International Panel on Climate Change 2014 - Synthesis Report: Summary for Policy-Makers

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change launched its latest report on November 2nd.  As expected, the report reasserts the critical importance of urgent and decisive action on climate change, in particular the need for substantial cuts in carbon emissions.  The summary for policy-makers provides an integrated view of climate change, and posits that it is extremely likely that climate change is a man-made phenomenon.

Renewable Energy for Parliamentarians: a How-To Guide

This publication by UNDP and Climate Parliament seeks to facilitate and encourage parliamentary action on renewable energy.  The Guide explores the benefits of renewable energy development, presents an overview of renewable energy technologies and their respective applications, and offers concrete guidelines and tips for parliamentary action.  

World Bank Group - Climate-smart development: adding up the benefits of actions that help build prosperity, end poverty and combat climate change

This new report by the World Bank Group provides concrete data to help policy-makers understand the broader potential of climate-smart development investments. It outlines how government actions can boost economic performance and benefit lives, jobs, crops, energy, and GDP - as well as emissions reductions to combat climate change.