The concept “Anthropocene” was originally proposed as a geological epoch in which humans have become a dominant driver of Earth System change (Crutzen, 2002). In recent years, the use of the term has broadened to signify (1) the novelty of the time period in which humans find themselves as a result of this; (2) the novel challenges, opportunities and uncertainties that awareness of global potency brings; and (3) the new perspectives required to deal with them. In the Anthropocene, change has reached the planetary level, not only through accumulation but also through the accelerating emergence of systemic symptoms of high magnitude and notable simultaneity and synchronicity (Steffen et al., 2015a). All aspects of these changes imply risk and security issues for nearer or more distant futures, from the unexpected magnitude of some processes to unperceived connections between them, to the crossing of planetary boundaries (Rockström et al., 2009 and Steffen et al., 2015b).
Human influence on the Earth System has been ongoing for centuries (Turner et al., 1990), yet only recently has it had significant implications for the structure and functioning of the Earth System at the planetary level (Steffen et al., 2015b). In the Anthropocene, humans are doing more than simply changing local land cover, extracting resources, and degrading the air, water, and soil. They have also become key drivers and amplifiers of planetary change, influencing large-scale processes and systems, including the climate, the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems, and ultimately the functioning of the Earth System as a whole. These intertwined and more complex socio-ecological systems are likely to exhibit more unexpected, emergent behaviors, with new risks and uncertainties.
1. We underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. We
emphasise our strong political will to urgently combat climate change in accordance with the principle ofcommon but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. To achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius, on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change. We recognize the critical impacts of climate change and the potential impacts of response measures on countries particularly vulnerable to its adverse effects and stress the need to
establish a comprehensive adaptation programme including international support.