The climate crisis has driven the planet into “uncharted territory”, with far-reaching repercussions for today’s and future generations, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization. It said: Cop26 summit was a “make-or-break opportunity to put us back on track”.
The WMO’s State of the Global Climate report shows that the last seven years have been the hottest seven years on record, and that accelerating sea level rise hit new heights in 2021. It also lists the heatwaves and wildfires that have affected the planet this year. This report is meant to inform. Cop26 negotiations.
“The report shows our planet is changing before our eyes,” said the UN secretary general, António Guterres. “From the ocean depths to mountain tops, from melting glaciers to relentless extreme weather events, communities and ecosystems around the globe are being devastated. Cop26 must be a turning-point for both people and the planet.
“Scientists are clear on the facts,” he said. “Now leaders need to be just as clear in their actions. There are solutions. The door is open. We must act now, with ambition and solidarity, to safeguard our future and save humanity.”
“Extreme events are the new norm,” said Prof Petteri Taalas, the WMO secretary general. “Cop26 is a make-or-break opportunity to put us back on track.”
Taalas has provided the climate impacts. “It rainedIt was not snowed at the peak Greenland Ice Sheet. A heatwave in CanadaTemperatures in British Columbia reached nearly 50C from parts of the US, while others in the US were pushing temperatures to near 50C. The exceptional heat was often accompanied by devastating fires,” he said.
“Months’ worth of rainfall fell in the space of hours in ChinaMany parts of Europe experienced severe flooding, including some areas. dozens of casualtiesbillions in economic loss. A second year in drought in sub-tropical South America reduced the flow of mighty river basins and hit agriculture, transport and energy production.”
Following a string of reports detailing the grave danger facing the planet, 120 global leaders will arrive Monday at Cop26 in Glasgow. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report was a “code red” warning, according to Guterres, and found that global heating was unequivocally caused by human activitiesIt has impacted every part on the planet.
UN reports have also found that the action plans of the world’s nations so far leave the planet facing a catastrophic 2.7C of heating. Emissions are expected to rise. 16% higher in 2030Not 45%, which is the cut that science indicates is necessary to keep below 1.5C without the worst consequences. Planned production by the world’s governments of fossil fuels, the key cause of the climate emergency, “vastly exceeds” the limit1.5C.
The WMO report shows that the rise in the world’s average temperature has exceeded the landmark figure of 1.0C above pre-industrial levels over the past two decades, the first time that a 20-year period has surpassed this threshold since records began in 1850.
“This fact will focus the minds of delegates at Cop26 aspiring to keep within the limits agreed in Paris six years ago,” said Prof Stephen Belcher, the UK Met Office chief scientist. The report said 2021 would not be the single hottest year on record, because of a natural climate phenomenon called La Niña, which is temporary.
A WMO report released last week showed that the levels climate-heating gases in the atmosphere hit record levels2020, despite coronavirus-related lockdowns
More than 90% heat trapped by greenhouse gases is absorbed by the oceans. The WMO’s new report says seven global datasets predict new record sea temperatures in the coming year. The oceans also absorb about a quarter of humanity’s carbon emissions, which has pushed the seas to their most acidic in at least 26,000 years.
According to the study, sea level rose by 2.1mm per year between 1993 and 2002, and 4.4mm per year between 2013 and 2021. This is mainly due to the rapid loss of ice from glaciers, ice sheets, and glaciers. Prof Jonathan Bamber at Bristol University’s glaciology centre said: “If we continue on our current trajectory, that rise could exceed 2m by 2100 and displace some 630 million people worldwide. The consequences of that are unimaginable.”
An exceptionally hot and dry summer in 2021 in western North America took a “brutal toll” on the region’s mountain glaciers, the WMO said. Prof Andrew Shepherd at the University of Leeds said: “2021 is now the 30th consecutive year in which Antarctica and Greenland have together lost ice, and there is no sign of this abating. It’s a shocking record.”
The report also records extreme temperature records for 2021. The Death Valley, USA, recorded 54.4C in July, which is the highest temperature recorded since at least 1930s. The 48.8C in Sicily (Italy) in August is a provisional European record. Many areas in North America and Europe were affected by major wildfires.
The Pacific north-west heatwave “would have been virtually impossible without climate change”, scientists found, and the flooding in western Europe was made up to nine times more likely by the climate crisis.
Prof Hannah Cloke at the University of Reading said: “I only hope that at Cop26, the facts [in the WMO report], which summarise the fates of millions of people, are foremost in the minds of the world’s political leaders.”