World heading in wrong direction: climate report
A new climate assessment warns that catastrophes will become commonplace in case the world fails to cut fossil fuel emissions.
Humanity is "going in the wrong direction" on climate change due to its addiction to fossil fuels, the UN warned Tuesday in an assessment showing that planet-warming emissions are higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and its Environment Program warned that catastrophes will become commonplace in case the world economy fails to decarbonize in line with what science says is needed to prevent the worst impacts of global heating.
The WMO and the Environment Program pointed to Pakistan's monumental floods and China's crop-withering heatwave this year as examples of what to expect.
“We are retrieving our belongings. Our beddings, cupboards, and everything else here."#Pakistan has urged the international community to help with relief efforts while struggling to cope with the aftermath of massive floods that killed more than 900 people.#PakistanFloods pic.twitter.com/IA0g6asB8a— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) August 26, 2022
From bad to worse: Guterres
On his part, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that "Floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with alarming frequency."
Guterres considered that "There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity's fossil fuel addiction."
The UN's United in Science report underscores how, nearly three years since Covid-19 handed governments a unique opportunity to reassess how to power their economies, countries are continuing ahead with pollution.
The report found that after an unprecedented 5.4% fall in emissions in 2020 due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, preliminary data from January-May this year shows global CO2 emissions are 1.2% higher than before Covid-19.
The assessment found that this is due to large year-on-year increases in the United States, India, and most European countries.
"The science is unequivocal: we are going in the wrong direction," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
Taalas pointed out that "Greenhouse gas concentrations are continuing to rise, reaching new record highs. Fossil fuel emission rates are now above pre-pandemic levels. The past seven years were the warmest on record."
Summer 2022 was the hottest in Europe: EU
Tuesday's United in Science report indicated that there was a 93% chance that the record for the hottest year globally - currently, 2016 - will be broken within five years.
Last week, the European Union's Copernicus climate monitor highlighted that summer 2022 was the hottest in Europe and one of the hottest globally since records began in the 1970s.
Last month, the UN warned that the drought gripping the Horn of Africa and threatening millions with acute food shortages was now likely to extend into the fifth year.
Earth on course to warm 2.8C by 2100
The United in Science assessment warned that the continued use of fossil fuels meant the chance of the annual mean global temperature temporarily exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in one of the next five years was roughly even.
It is noteworthy that keeping longer-term temperatures below 1.5C is the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Despite more than three decades of UN-led negotiations, rich polluters show little sign of being willing to make emissions cuts that would keep the 1.5C goal in action.
The UN's Environment Program (UNEP), in an update to its annual "emissions gap" assessment following new pledges made at last November's UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, noted Tuesday noted that these promises were far from sufficient.
It explained that the ambition even in countries' most recent pledges would need to be four times greater to limit warming to 2C, and seven times higher to make 1.5C.
The UNEP warned that current worldwide climate policies put Earth on course to warm 2.8C by 2100.
Uncharted territory of destruction
Guterres considered that Tuesday's assessment showed "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," he said in a video message.
Tasneem Essop, executive director of Climate Action Network, said that the forthcoming COP27 climate conference in Egypt needed leaders to agree to new funding to help communities in at-risk nations rebuild after extreme events.
"The terrifying picture painted by the United in Science report is already a lived reality for millions of people facing recurring climate disasters," Essop indicated.