School of GeoSciences Research

Global warming - Earth's climate is changing

The climate crisis is 'unequivocally' caused by human activities. We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, but changes will continue to escalate - with effects we cannot fully anticipate.

An oil rig entering Cape Town harbour on a misty morning in Sea Point, with rocks on the coastline in the foreground

Our researchers pioneered the method that determines the relationships between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

  • Humans are responsible for the observed warming of our planets atmosphere, land and oceans. 
  • The present state of our climate system is 'unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years'.
  • Present-day global concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO₂) are higher and rising faster than at any time in at least the past two million years.
  • By the 2030's, the world's global temperature will reach or exceed the 1.5C danger limit agreed in the Paris Agreement.
  • Only drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions this decade can prevent us from rising global temperatures to a disastrous extent.

So, what is happening?

You can find out key information by clicking on each heading below:

Many of the findings in earlier reports have been strengthened and sharpened in this report. Importantly, the need for a limited carbon budget and transition to net-zero emissions has been confirmed, and the uncertainty around the climate sensitivity narrowed.

Professor Gabi HegerlSchool of GeoSciences

Want to know more?

We've provided some useful links for you.  To see the information, simply click on each heading below: