“Tipping point” for climate action: time is running out to avoid catastrophic warming


The temporary reduction in carbon emissions caused by global lockdowns of COVID-19 has not slowed the relentless advance of climate change. Greenhouse gas concentrations are at record levels and the planet is on the path to dangerous overheating, warns a multi-agency climate report released Thursday.

According to the benchmark United in Science 2021, there is “no sign of greener regrowth”, as carbon dioxide emissions are accelerating rapidly, after a temporary hitch in 2020 due to COVID, and far from the targets set by the Paris Agreement.

“We have reached a tipping point on the need for climate action. The disruption to our climate and our planet is already worse than we thought, and it’s moving faster than expectedUN Secretary General António Guterres said in a video message. “This report shows how far we are from the course,” he added.

A world in danger

Rising global temperatures are already fueling devastating extreme weather events around the world, scientists say, with increasing impacts on economies and societies. For example, billions of hours of work have been lost due to excessive heat.

“We now have five times more meteorological disasters recorded than in 1970 and they are seven times more expensive. Even the most developed countries have become vulnerable, ”said the UN chief.

Mr Guterres cited how Hurricane Ida recently cut power to more than a million people in New Orleans, and New York City was crippled by record rains that killed at least 50 people In the region.

“These events would have been impossible without man-made climate change. Costly fires, floods and extreme weather events are increasing everywhere. These changes are just the beginning of the worst to come, ”he warned.

A dark future

The report echoes some of the data and warnings from experts from last year: The average global temperature over the past five years was among the highest on record, and temperatures are increasingly likely temporarily cross the threshold of 1.5 ° Celsius above the pre-industrial era, in the next five years.

The picture painted by United in science Is dark : even with ambitious measures to slow greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels will continue to rise and threaten low-lying islands and coastal populations around the world.

“We are really running out of time. We must act now to prevent further irreversible damage. The COP26 in November must mark this turning point. Until then, we need all countries to commit to achieving net zero emissions by the middle of this century and to present clear and credible long-term strategies to achieve it, ”urged the head of the government. ‘UN.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is scheduled to take place in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12, 2021. The crucial meeting is expected to set the course of action climate for the next decade.

We urgently need a breakthrough in adaptation and resilience, so that vulnerable communities can manage these increasing (climate) risks… I expect all of these issues will be addressed and resolved at COP26. Our future is at stake, ”said Mr. Guterres.

“We are not yet on track towards the Paris 1.5 to 2 degree limit, although positive things have started to happen and political interest in mitigating climate change is clearly increasing, but to be successful in this effort, we must start to act now. We cannot wait decades to act, we must start acting this decade, ”added Professor Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization.

The report also cites the findings of the latest IPCC report: The magnitude of recent changes in the climate system is unprecedented for many centuries to several thousand years, and it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land.

Notable results

The concentrations of the main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2 O) continued to increase in 2020 and the first half of 2021.

According to OMM, reducing atmospheric methane (CH4) in the short term, could support the commitments of 193 Member States made in Paris. This measure does not reduce the need for strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), warns that five years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, emissions gap (the difference between the direction emissions are going and where science says they should be in 2030) is bigger than ever.

While the growing number of countries committing to net zero emissions targets is encouraging, to remain achievable and credible, these targets urgently need to be reflected in short-term policy and much more ambitious actions, he said. ‘agency.

“Last year we estimated there was a 5.6% drop in emissions and since the lifetime of carbon dioxide is so long, this one-year emissions anomaly does not change. the bigger picture. We have seen improvements in air quality, those short-lived gases that affect air quality. We saw this as a positive development. But now, we are back more or less to the emission levels of 2019 ”, further explained the head of the WMO.

A warmer future

The report explains that the annual global average temperature is likely to be at least 1 ° C higher than pre-industrial levels (defined as the 1850-1900 average) in each of the next five years and will most likely be in the range of 0.9 ° C to 1.8 ° C.

There is also a 40% chance that the average temperature over the next five years will be at least 1.5 ° C higher than pre-industrial levels. However, it is very unlikely that the 5-year average temperature for 2021-2025 will exceed the threshold of 1.5 ° C.

High latitude regions and the Sahel are likely to be wetter over the next five years, the report also warns.

Rising sea levels are inevitable

“We don’t know what’s going to happen to the Antarctic Glacier, where we have the largest mass of ice in the world and in the worst case scenario, we could see up to two meters of sea level rise by the end. of this century if the melting of the Antarctic glacier occurs more quickly, ”warned Professor Taalas.

Global sea level rose 20 cm from 1900 to 2018, and at an accelerated rate from 2006 to 2018.

Even if emissions are reduced to limit warming to well below 2 ° C, global mean sea level would likely rise 0.3 to 0.6 m by 2100 and could rise 0.3 to 3, 1 m by 2300.

Upward adaptation will be essentiall, especially along low-lying coasts, small islands, deltas and coastal towns, explains the WMO.

The health of the world also in danger

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the rise in temperatures is linked to an increase in heat-related mortality and work disorders, with a surplus of 103 billion potential work hours lost globally in 2019 over those lost in 2000 .

What’s more, COVID-19[female[feminine infections and climate risks such as heat waves, forest fires and poor air quality combine to threaten human health around the world, putting vulnerable populations at particular risk.

According to the United Nations health agency, the COVID-19 recovery efforts should be aligned with national climate change and air quality strategies to reduce the risks associated with cascading climatic hazards and obtain co-benefits for health.

“We had this temperature anomaly in western Canada and the United States, where we were up to 15 degrees warmer than normal. And this has resulted in a record high, forest fires and major health problems, especially among the elderly, ”said the Secretary General of WMO.

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