What is climate change


Climate change is a long-term change in atmospheric temperature, precipitation, wind speed and other characteristics of the climate. It affects all parts of the world, resulting in some regions experiencing more extreme weather and heavy rainfall and others facing heatwaves and droughts.

Causes of climate change

Climate change can occur naturally, for instance, volcanic eruptions and forest fires, which can be observed cyclically throughout the history of the Earth’s development, or as a result of human management. The world is currently experiencing particularly rapid climate change. Scientists believe that it is caused by human activities that are resulting in the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere in addition to naturally occurring gases.

Combustion of coal, oil and gas for energy and transportation


carbon dioxide (CO2)

Agriculture, livestock and waste management


nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4)

Production of refrigerators, air conditioners


hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluorides (SF6)


Greenhouse gases are mainly generated from fossil fuels that are used to produce energy, as well as from human activities such as the felling of rainforests, agriculture, livestock farming and chemical manufacturing. The action of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is similar to that of greenhouse film or glass – they let the Solar radiation through, but block the infrared or heat radiation reflected from the surface of the Earth. The higher the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere, the more heat is ‘trapped’, thus increasing the temperature of the surface of the Earth. The process that results in an increase in the average air temperature on Earth is called global warming. This term can create a false impression because these changes do not mean that every region of the globe is getting warmer; therefore, the whole set of complex processes, as a result of which the average temperature on our planet increases, has recently been referred to as climate change.

Climate change is also caused by the unsustainable and excessive consumption of goods and services, as well as increased global mobility and consumption of fuel for transport. The world’s total energy consumption continues to increase, and the majority, or more than 80%, of the consumed energy is still generated by burning fossil fuels, as a result of which GHG emissions into the atmosphere continue to increase.

A review of the distribution of GHG emissions by sector shows that almost ¾ of the world’s total GHG emissions are generated by the energy sector – transport, energy consumption in industry and buildings, as well as in agriculture and fisheries.


Also in Latvia, most of the GHG emissions, or 65%, are generated by the energy sector, and almost half of them (44%) – the transport sector. The agricultural sector ranks second in terms of the amount of generated GHG emissions.

Consequences of climate change

Climate change is contributing to impacts that are already being perceived around the world and are expected to become more intense and frequent in the coming decades. Climate change affects areas such as:


Social sector

Business sector


High temperature

Drought and forest fires

Freshwater availability


Sea level rise and coastal areas



Inland waters

Marine environment


Vulnerable population groups



Infrastructure and buildings


Agriculture and forestry



Business affecting cross-cutting issues

For more information on the effects of climate change, read here.


To study the causes and consequences of global warming, as well as to predict future warming, scientists are building climate models/computer simulations that model the responses and interactions of the oceans and atmosphere with natural and human-induced changes to the surface of the Earth.

Scientists have discovered that the burning of fossil fuels caused global surface air temperatures to rise by an average of 1.1 °C between 1990 and 2020. It is not a very big change, but it is a degree of warming that has not occurred in the last 2000 years. Climate models predict that the average temperature of the Earth will rise by 2 °C to 6 °C in the 21st century.

Predictions of Future Global Climate 2024.png

Action is needed now to mitigate the worst-case scenarios. By changing our daily habits and being energy efficient at work, as well as at home, everyone can reduce their CO2 footprint.

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