Without much more ambitious action, the physical and socio-economic impacts of climate change “will be increasingly devastating” across the planet, according to a multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Responding to the findings, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “climate impacts are heading into uncharted territories of destruction.”
What is known as the United in Science report, which is published annually, includes contributions on the latest trends from leading climate science and meteorology organizations.
The 2022 report released on Tuesday shows greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs while fossil fuel emission rates are above pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to lockdowns .
The ambition of emissions reduction commitments for 2030 “must be seven times higher to be in line with the 1.5 degree objective of the Paris Agreement”, he concludes.
The number of weather, climate and water-related disasters has increased fivefold over the past 50 years, he confirms, with daily losses totaling more than 200 million euros.
The report highlights a glaring lack of climate resilience; less than half of the countries in the world reported the existence of multi-hazard early warning systems, with particularly low coverage in Africa, least developed countries and small island developing states. She pleads for them to be provided in every country within five years.
Against a backdrop of the past seven years being the hottest on record, the report concludes that there is a 48% chance that for at least one year over the next five years, the annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5 degrees above the average of 1850-1900.
Meanwhile, as global warming increases, “tipping points” in the climate system cannot be ruled out, he adds. “Cities that are home to billions of people and are responsible for up to 70% of man-made emissions will face increasing socio-economic impacts.”
The most vulnerable populations will suffer the most, says the report which details examples of extreme weather this year made worse by global warming.
“Floods, droughts, heat waves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with alarming frequency. Heatwaves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan. Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States. The new magnitude of these disasters is not natural. They are the price of humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels,” Mr. Guterres said.
The report “shows that climate impacts are heading into uncharted territory of destruction. Yet every year we double this reliance on fossil fuels, even as the symptoms worsen rapidly,” he added.
“Climate science is increasingly able to show that many of the extreme weather events we experience have become more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change,” said the Secretary General of the ‘WMO, Professor Petteri Taalas.
“We have seen this many times this year, with tragic effect. It is more important than ever to scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate hazards in vulnerable communities. This is why WMO is spearheading a campaign to ensure ‘early warnings for all’ over the next five years,” he added.
The report is a shameful reminder that building resilience is the neglected half of the climate equation, Guterres said in a video message. “It is a scandal that developed countries have not taken adaptation seriously and have ignored their commitments to help the developing world.”
The Glasgow decision at COP26 last year urged developed countries to collectively provide $40 billion a year in new adaptation finance. “This needs to be achieved in full, as a starting point,” he said, “adaptation finance needs are projected to reach at least $300 billion per year by 2030.”
Guterres said wealthy G20 countries needed to push through the necessary changes, including providing adaptation finance through multilateral development banks – because they were shareholders in those financial institutions.
“All countries must step up their national climate ambition every year, until we are on track. The G20, which is responsible for 80% of global emissions, must lead the way,” he said.
This meant, he suggested, that no new coal-fired power plants were built, with a phase-out of coal by 2030 for OECD countries and by 2040 for all others. “The current free access to fossil fuels must end now. It is a recipe for permanent climate chaos and suffering.
The report includes contributions from WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch and World Weather Research Programmes; United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, World Climate Research Programme, Global Carbon Project; UK Met Office and Urban Climate Change Research Network.