Monday January 20, 2020

“It’s Important that we Tackle Climate Change with much Greater Ambition,” Says UN Chief

The report warns that key climate change indicators are becoming more pronounced

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UN, climate change
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a press conference about climate change in New York, March 28, 2019. VOA

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned Thursday that climate change was moving faster than international efforts to mitigate it.

“It is important that we tackle climate change with much greater ambition,” Guterres told reporters at the launch of a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) annual report on the subject. The report warns that key climate change indicators are becoming more pronounced.

Levels of carbon dioxide — a main driver of global warming — are the highest they have been in 3 million years, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As a result, oceans are heating up and their waters are becoming more acidic, affecting all kinds of marine life.

Higher temperatures

Temperatures on land are also rising — 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record, and the years 2015 to 2018 were the four warmest in global temperature record-keeping, the WMO report said.

UN, climate change, Paris climate meet
FILE – The Eiffel Tower is illuminated in green with the words “Paris Agreement Is Done,” to celebrate the day that the U.N. climate change agreement went into force, in Paris, Nov. 4, 2016. VOA

The secretary-general said it was necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade in order to be carbon neutral globally by 2050.

“If not, it will be irreversible, not to be able to achieve the goals that were established in Paris,” Guterres said of the 2015 climate agreement. “We are very close to the moment in which it will no longer be possible to come to the end of the century with only 1.5 degrees. We have very few years to reverse these trends, because the concentrations of CO2 [carbon dioxide] in the atmosphere will not disappear.”

The aim under the Paris Agreement is to keep the planet from warming well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Scientists hope to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“We have both the technical and financial means to reach the 1.5 percent target,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas told reporters at the launch.

climate change, UN, Paris
Levels of carbon dioxide — a main driver of global warming — are the highest they have been in 3 million years, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Pixabay

But if the world fails to make the necessary changes quickly, the U.N. warned, a warming planet can lead to all sorts of difficulties. Droughts and floods could destroy crops and livestock, causing food insecurity; changes in the oceans will affect fishing and ecosystems; rising sea levels could jeopardize large coastal cities; and humans will feel health effects from pollution and heat waves. Such upheavals will also lead to more displaced persons, increased migration and social instability.

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Weather disasters 

Extreme weather events are already on the rise, with this month’s Cyclone Idai just the most recent example. The storm’s deadly winds and huge rainfall struck parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, killing hundreds and wiping out homes and livelihoods. Last year, the report counted 14 weather- and climate-related disasters in the United States, costing nearly $50 billion in damage.

The U.N. is hosting a summit in September on the margins of the annual General Assembly gathering of leaders that it hopes will mobilize new climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives. (VOA)

Next Story

2000-2019: The Hottest Decade Measured

US Experts: Last Decade was Hottest Ever Recorded

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Hottest decade global warming
Last year was the second hottest ever due to global warming. Pixabay

The last 10 years were the hottest decade ever measured on Earth, last year was the second warmest ever and NASA says “you haven’t seen anything yet.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that the average global temperature in the 2010s was 14.7 degrees Celsius, with eight of the 10 hottest years ever recorded.

Parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America had record-high temperatures in 2019. Alaska’s average temperature was above freezing for the first time in recorded history.

Hottest decade global warming
People walk outside of the COP25 climate talks congress in Madrid, Spain. VOA

Many climate scientists who have seen the study said there was no other explanation for the record-breaking warming than human activity.

“This is going to be part of what we see every year until we stabilize greenhouse gases,” said Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back. This shows that what’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon.”

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Experts say natural causes of a warmer atmosphere, including more heat from the sun and climate variations, are not big enough to explain the long-term temperature rise.

For those who still question global warming, the scientists say all one has to do is look at melting ice sheets, more powerful storms, floods in some parts of the world and drought in others as clear evidence. (VOA)