Climate; World Heading Towards Wrong Direction

2022 Saw Harsh Reality of Climate Change

“Climate science is clear: we are heading in the wrong direction”, declares a major, multi-agency UN climate science report released on Tuesday, which highlights the huge gap between aspirations and reality. The report, United in Science, said that increasing fossil fuel emissions and rising greenhouse gases, now at a record high, risk thwarting plans to reduce global temperatures and avoid climate catastrophe.

The multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization warns that the physical and socio-economic impacts of climate change will be increasingly devastating without much more ambitious action.

CLIMATE SCIENCE; GREEN HOUSE

It shows that greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs. Fossil fuel emission rates are now above pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to lock downs. In order to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement, namely keeping global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, greenhouse gas emission reduction pledges need to be seven times higher, says the report.

CLIMATE SCIENCE; GLOBAL WARMING

Noting that as global warming increases, “tipping points” in the climate system cannot be ruled out, the reportstated that the past seven years were the warmest on record. “There is a 48% chance that, during at least one year in the next 5 years, the annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5°C higher than 1850-1900 average,” the report said.

The authors point to the recent devastating floods in Pakistan, which saw up to a third of the country underwater, as an example of the extreme weather events in different parts of the world this year. They also talk about prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States, wildfires, and major storms.

“Climate science is increasingly able to show that many of the extreme weather events that we are experiencing have become more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“We have seen this repeatedly this year, with tragic effect. It is more important than ever that we scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate risks in vulnerable communities,” he said.

CLIMATE SCIENCE; OFF TRACK

Responding to the United in Science report, Secretary-General António Guterres, said “Floods, droughts, heat waves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with alarming frequency. Heat waves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan. Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States. There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction.”

“This year’s United in Science report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territory of destruction. Yet each year we double-down on this fossil fuel addiction, even as the symptoms get rapidly worse,” he said.

United in Science provides an overview of the most recent science related to climate change, its impacts and responses. The science is clear – urgent action is needed to mitigate emissions and adapt to the changing climate, says the report. It includes input from WMO (and its Global Atmosphere Watch and World Weather Research Programmes); the UN Environment Programme, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the World Climate Research Programme, Global Carbon Project; UK Met Office, and the Urban Climate Change Research Network. It includes relevant headline statements from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report.

KEY MESSAGES

• Atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations continue to rise and fossil fuel emissions are now above pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021

• Recent years saw record high temperatures and ocean heat. Looking forward, there is a 48% chance that, during at least one year in the next five years, annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5 °C higher than in 1850-1900

• Mitigation pledges are insufficient to achieve the Paris Agreement. Enhanced action is needed to prevent the continued warming that is increasing the likelihood of irreversible changes in the climate system, known as tipping points

• Billions of people around the world are exposed to climate change impacts. Cities – responsible for up to 70% of human-caused emissions – will face increasing socioeconomic impacts and the world’s most vulnerable populations will suffer most, as seen in recent extreme weather events

• Adaptation is crucial to lower the risks to climate impacts. Early warning systems can save lives, reduce losses and damages, contribute to disaster risk reduction and support climate change adaptation.

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