‘Never before has it been so clear that we need long-term, inclusive, clean transitions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development’
This week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that greenhouse gas emissions are fast approaching pre-pandemic levels following a temporary decline caused by the lockdown and economic slowdown.
According to WMO’s United in Science 2020 report released on September 9, the world is set to see its warmest five years on record and is way behind its goal of limiting rising global temperature below 2 °C or at 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
‘Climate change continues unabated’
The report compiled under the direction of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with inputs from leading science organizations including the Global Carbon Project (GCP), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the UN Environment Programme and the UK Met Office, highlights the increasing and irreversible repercussions of climate change on glaciers, oceans, nature, economies and human living conditions.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said: “While many aspects of our lives have been disrupted in 2020, climate change has continued unabated.”
According to the report, there’s a 24 percent chance of at least one year surpassing the crucial 1.5-degree threshold between now and 2024. It adds that when global temperatures start hitting that mark year after year, scientists estimate that up to 7 percent of earth’s ecosystems will be transformed to an entirely new biome.
In addition, by 2050, the number of people at risk of floods will increase from its current level of 1.2 billion to 1.6 billion. By the same year, the number of people living in potentially severe water-scarce areas will increase to 2.7 to 3.2 billion people.
COVID-19 effect on climate change
The report has also accounted for the significant impacts of the ongoing pandemic on climate change and how it has impeded our ability to monitor these changes through the global observing system since restrictions have affected the quality of forecasts and other weather, climate and ocean-related services.
While the Covid-19 pandemic brought the global economy to a standstill at the beginning of 2020, it was at its peak lockdown duration in April able to decrease the daily global fossil CO2 emissions by an unprecedented 17% compared to 2019. Even so, emissions were still equivalent to 2006 levels, highlighting both the steep growth over the past 15 years and the continued dependence on fossil sources for energy.
“This has been an unprecedented year for people and the planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives worldwide. At the same time, the heating of our planet and climate disruption has continued apace,” said Guterres in the foreword of the report.
“Record heat, ice loss, wildfires, floods and droughts continue to worsen, affecting communities, nations and economies around the world. Furthermore, due to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the past century, the planet is already locked into future significant heating.”
‘Science, solidarity and solutions’
He added: “Never before has it been so clear that we need long-term, inclusive, clean transitions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development.
“We must turn the recovery from the pandemic into a real opportunity to build a better future
“We need science, solidarity and solutions to tackle both the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis…[if we want] to set a path towards a safer, more sustainable future for all.”
Share this story to let others know about the dangerous implications of climate change.
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