Either more ambitious measures are taken, or the consequences of climate change will be devastating

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A new multi-institutional report from the World Meteorological Organization highlights the great distance between aspirations and climate reality and warns that, if “much more ambitious” measures are not adopted, the “physical and socioeconomic” consequences of climate change “will be increasingly most devastating.”

The study entitled “United in Science” highlights that greenhouse gas concentrations continue to grow and reach new highs. The temporary decline in fossil fuel emission rates that occurred during the COVID-19 lockdowns were a mirage, as they currently exceed pre-pandemic levels.

It also indicates that the ambition needed to meet emission reduction commitments by 2030 must be seven times higher to meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius set in the Paris Agreement.

It adds that the last seven years have been the warmest on record and that the probability that the average annual temperature is temporarily 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than the average corresponding to the period 1850-1900, at least one of the next five years, it is 48%.

Meanwhile, cities, which are home to billions of people and generate up to 70% of man-made emissions, will face increasing socio-economic repercussions. The most vulnerable populations will suffer the most, says the report, which gives examples of extreme weather events in different parts of the world this year.

Extreme weather events are not natural

Floods, droughts, heat waves, extreme storms and forest fires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with an increasingly alarming frequency,” said António Guterres in a video message at the launch of the report.

António Guterres stressed that the magnitude of recent phenomena such as heat waves in Europe, floods in Pakistan or prolonged droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States, “have nothing natural” and that they represent “the price that You have to pay for humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels.”

For this reason, he warned that the impacts generated by climate change “are entering an “unknown territory of destruction” and that, despite this situation, “every year we insist on redoubling this addiction to fossil fuels, while the symptoms are rapidly worsening. ”.

Floods in Baluchistan province, Pakistan. (Photo: UN / Shirin Yaseen)

It is vital that all countries have an early warning network

“Climate research increasingly shows that many of the extreme weather events we are experiencing have become more likely and more intense due to climate change caused by human activities,” said the secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization.

Professor Petteri Taalas stressed that this year we were able to verify this phenomenon “repeatedly” with tragic consequences and highlighted the importance of intensifying “the use of early warning systems to promote the resilience of vulnerable communities against current and future climate risks” .

Taalas recalled that the Organization is leading a campaign that seeks to “guarantee Early Warnings for Everyone in the next five years.”

Report highlights

The levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) in the atmosphere continue to rise. The temporary reduction in CO2 emissions observed in 2020, during the pandemic, had little effect on the increase in atmospheric concentrations (what remains in the atmosphere after the ocean and biosphere absorb CO2).

In 2021, global fossil CO2 emissions returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, after falling 5.4% in 2020 as a result of widespread lockdowns. Preliminary data shows that global CO2 emissions in 2022 (from January to May) are 1.2% higher than the levels recorded during the same period in 2019, as a result of increases observed in the United States, India and most of the world. European countries.

A quarter of greenhouse gas emissions from land use change are related to food trade between countries, of which more than three quarters are due to land clearing for agriculture, in especially grazing.

About 90% of the heat stored in the Earth system is stored in the ocean; Ocean heat content for the period 2018-2022 was higher than for any other five-year period, as rates of ocean warming increased particularly sharply in the past two decades.

In each of the years between 2022 and 2026, the global mean annual near-surface temperature is projected to exceed pre-industrial levels (1850-1900), with an increase of between 1.1 and 1.7 degrees Celsius. .

Home to 55% of the world’s population, or 4.2 billion people, cities generate up to 70% of man-made emissions, while being highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as rising from intense precipitation, accelerated sea level rise, acute and chronic coastal flooding, and extreme heat, among other major risks.

By the 2050s, more than 1.6 billion people in more than 970 cities around the world will be regularly exposed to three-month average temperatures reaching at least 35 degrees Celsius.

Low-lying coastal cities and settlements, such as Bangkok, Thailand, Houston, USA, and Venice, Italy, are likely to experience more frequent and extensive coastal flooding as a result of rising sea levels, meteorological tides, and subsidence.

The number of weather-, climate- and water-related disasters has increased fivefold in the last 50 years, resulting in US$202 million worth of losses per day.

With 3.3-3.6 billion people living in contexts highly vulnerable to climate change, it is more important than ever that the international community take ambitious action not only to mitigate emissions, but also to foster adaptation to climate change, in particular to extreme weather events, which can have long-lasting socio-economic impacts.

Early warning systems are an effective and cost-effective means of adaptation that save lives and reduce loss and damage. Fewer than half of the world’s countries have reported the existence of multi-hazard early warning systems, as coverage is particularly poor in Africa, least developed countries and small island developing States. (Font: UN News)

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Written by Editor TLN

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