Climate impact towards ‘unknown areas of destruction’, says UN chief

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens to emergency room health workers during a presentation, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Larkana, Pakistan on September 10, 2022.
  • The WMO report warns that the world is “going in the wrong direction” regarding climate change.
  • United Science report says Earth is getting closer to dangerous climate tipping points.
  • Global warming is rising above pre-pandemic levels.

LONDON: The effects of climate change are going “to unknown areas of destruction”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned on Tuesday of the release of a multi-agency scientific report assessing the latest research on the subject.

The report, led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), warns that the world is “going in the wrong direction” on climate change.

With concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continuing to rise and world leaders failing to adopt strategies to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, the Earth is getting closer and closer to dangerous climate tipping points, according to the United in Science report.

Extreme weather events are already becoming more frequent and intense.

“Heat waves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan…There’s nothing natural about the new magnitude of these disasters,” Guterres said in a video message.

Residents use a boat while others wade through rising floodwaters after rains and floods during the monsoon season on the outskirts of Bhan Syedabad, Pakistan, September 8, 2022. — Reuters
Residents use a boat while others wade through rising floodwaters after rains and floods during the monsoon season on the outskirts of Bhan Syedabad, Pakistan, September 8, 2022. — Reuters

Despite a drop in emissions during the coronavirus lockdowns, planet warming emissions have since risen above pre-pandemic levels. Preliminary data shows that global carbon dioxide emissions in the first half of this year were 1.2% higher than the same period in 2019, the report finds.

The past seven years were the warmest on record.

The global average temperature has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average. And scientists expect the annual average through 2026 could be anywhere from 1.1°C to 1.7°C warmer — meaning there’s a chance we could exceed the 1.5°C warming threshold in the next five years. .

By the end of the century, without aggressive climate action, global warming is estimated to reach 2.8°C.

But even at the current level of warming, we can pass several climate tipping points.

The ocean current that moves heat from the tropics to the northern hemisphere, for example, is now at its slowest in 1,000 years — jeopardizing historical weather patterns, says the report, which includes contributions from the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. .

A firefighter tries to contain a grass fire during a heat wave in Snodland, near Maidstone, UK, August 14, 2022. — Reuters
A firefighter tries to contain a grass fire during a heat wave in Snodland, near Maidstone, UK, August 14, 2022. — Reuters

Nearly half of the world’s population is considered highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change: floods, heat, drought, forest fires and storms.

By the 2050s, more than 1.6 billion urbanites will be regularly suffocated by quarterly average temperatures of at least 35°C (95°F).

To help communities cope, the WMO has pledged to place every person on Earth under the protection of an early warning system within the next five years.



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