‘United in Science’: We are heading in wrong direction

Climate science is clear. The world is heading in the wrong direction, a new multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), which highlights the huge gap between aspirations and reality, said.

Without much more ambitious action, the physical and socio-economic impact of climate change will be increasingly devastating, it warns.

The report, United in Science, shows that greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs. Fossil fuel emission rates are now above pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to lockdowns. The ambition of emissions reduction pledges for 2030 needs to be seven times higher to be in line with the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement.

The past seven years were the warmest on record. There is a 48 per cent chance that, during at least one year in the next five years, the annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5 degrees higher than 1850-1900 average.

As global warming increases, “tipping points” in the climate system cannot be ruled out.

Cities that host billions of people and are responsible for up to 70 per cent of human-caused emissions will face increasing socio-economic impact. The most vulnerable populations will suffer most, says the report which gives examples of extreme weather in different parts of the world this year.

“Floods, droughts, heatwaves, 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 US. There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“This year’s United in Science report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territory of destruction. Yet each year we double-down on this fossil fuel addiction, even as the symptoms get rapidly worse,” Guterres added in a video message.

“Climate science is increasingly able to show that many of the extreme weather events that we are experiencing have become more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change. We have seen this repeatedly this year, with tragic effect. It is more important than ever that we scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate risks in vulnerable communities. That is why WMO is spearheading a drive to ensure early warnings for all in the next five years,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

United in Science provides an overview of the most recent science related to climate change, its impacts and responses. The science is clear — urgent action is needed to mitigate emissions and adapt to the changing climate, says the report.

It includes input from WMO (and its Global Atmosphere Watch and World Weather Research Programmes); the UN Environment Programme, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the World Climate Research Programme, Global Carbon Project; UK Met Office, and the Urban Climate Change Research Network.

It includes relevant headline statements from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment Report.

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