ISO Guide 84:2020 ­– Addressing Climate Change in Standards

Man Assessing Adverse Impacts of Climate Change of an Earth not Adhering to ISO Guide 84:2020

Here are some things you should know about climate change: the nine years from 2013 to 2021 rank among the 10 warmest years on record; Earth’s temperature has risen by 0.14° Fahrenheit (0.08° Celsius) per decade since 1880; and the rate of warming since 1981 is more than twice that of 0.32° F (0.18° C) per decade. Thereby, ISO Guide 84:2020 ­– Guidelines for Addressing Climate Change Standards addresses strategies to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.

ISO Guide 84:2020 for Climate Change in Standards

ISO Guide 84:2020 provides a framework and general principles to standards developers on how to account for climate change when planning, drafting, revising, and updating ISO standards and other deliverables. Standards developers are encouraged to consider climate change issues at all stages in the standards development process. Further, the aim of the standard is to allow standards developers to include adaptation to climate change (ACC) and climate change mitigation (CCM) considerations within their standardization work. Both ACC and CCM are important for all processes related to a technology, activity, or product.

  • Adaptation to climate change (ACC): the process of anticipating the adverse effects of climate, such as sea-level rise, extreme weather events, or food security, and then taking action to prevent or minimize their damage they can cause. For example, adaptation strategies can include large-scale infrastructure changes like building defenses to protect against sea-level rise or to individuals lowering their food waste. ACC consideration is intended to help increase preparedness and disaster reduction and impact the resilience of an organization and their technologies, activities, or products.
  • Climate change mitigation (CCM): human intervention to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions entering the atmosphere or enhance GHG removal. For example, mitigation strategies can include increase the share of renewable energy or expanding the size of forest, which would enhance the storage of GHGs. CCM consideration consist primarily of approaches that seek to avoid, reduce, or limit the release of GHG emissions and/or increase GHG removals.

Understanding Climate Change

To understand climate change, first it is important to define climate. ISO Guide 84:2020 defines climate as a description of weather in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time (ranging from months to millions of years); it defines climate change as change in climate that lasts for an extended period (typically decades or longer).

Climate change is leading to a large-scale and long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns and average temperature. Climate change impacts include changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather events. 

Potential consequences from climate-related impacts include the disruption of environmental, social, and economic systems within national economies, and these adverse impact from climate change are expected to affect the poorest and most vulnerable people the most. For example, in Bangladesh, poor farmers are being forced from their land because rising sea levels are destroying the soil; in the melting Artic Circle, Indigenous communicates are being displaced from their homes; in the Himayalas, icecaps that have been a consistent source of water for more than 1 billion people are rapidly melting; and in the Sahel, extreme drought is leaving nomadic herdsmen without water to feed their families.

Human Activity and Natural Processes Can Cause Climate Change

Both human activity and natural processes can cause climate change. Human activities (mainly emitting fossil fuels) over the past two centuries have significantly increased the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere, especially in the form of carbon dioxide, and have modified the ability of ecosystems to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Overall, there is now an underlying trend of global warming, and a wide scientific consensus that this is due to the increase in GHGs emitted by human activities.

Besides human activity, natural processes also contribute to inter-annual variability and include aerosols and phenomena, such as El Niño and La Niña that cause warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean surface. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, accompanied by sea level rise, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and other climate-related changes.

Importance of ISO Guide 84:2020 for Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expressed a commitment to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change within the context of sustainable development, which seeks to meet the needs of the present population without compromising the needs of the future generation. This includes:

  1. Holding the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1,5 °C above pre-industrial level.
  2. Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development.

Therefore, the ISO Guide 84:2020 serves as a critical framework to enable standards developers to help obtain these quantitative goals to lower the global average temperature set out by the IPCC. Via the application of this document, users of such standards will better be able to address climate change mitigation and/or adaptation in ways that may have otherwise been unconsidered.

ISO Guide 84:2020 ­– Guidelines for Addressing Climate Change Standards is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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