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Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide levels reach new world record
by UN News, WMO, NOAA, Unicef, agencies
6:21am 18th May, 2023
27 July 2023 (Copernicus, World Meteorological Organization)
According to the EU Copernicus Climate Change Service, the first three weeks of July have been the warmest three-week period on record and the month is on track to be the hottest July and the hottest month on record.
These temperatures have been related to heatwaves in large parts of North America, Asia and Europe, which along with wildfires in countries including Canada and Greece, have had major impacts on people’s health, the environment and economies.
On July 6, the daily average global mean surface air temperature surpassed the record set in August 2016, making it the hottest day on record, with July 5 and July 7 shortly behind. The first three weeks of July have been the warmest three-week period on record. Global mean temperature temporarily exceeded the 1.5° Celsius threshold above preindustrial level during the first and third week of the month.
Since May, the global average sea surface temperature has been well above previously observed values for the time of the year; contributing to the exceptionally warm July. It is extremely likely that July 2023 will be the hottest July and also the hottest month on record, following on from the hottest June on record.
"We don’t have to wait for the end of the month to know this. July 2023 will shatter records across the board", said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. According to the data released today, July has already seen the hottest three-week period ever recorded; the three hottest days on record; and the highest-ever ocean temperatures for this time of year".
"For vast parts of North America, Asia, Africa and Europe – it is a cruel summer. For the entire planet, it is a disaster. And for scientists, it is unequivocal – humans are to blame. All this is entirely consistent with predictions and repeated warnings", said Mr Guterres.
“The extreme weather which has affected many millions of people in July is unfortunately the harsh reality of climate change and a foretaste of the future,” said World Meteorological Organization’s Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas. “The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is more urgent than ever before. Climate action is not a luxury but a must.”
WMO predicts that there is a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years will be the warmest on record and a 66% chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average for at least one of the five years.
4 July 2023
World registers hottest day ever recorded on July 3. (Reuters, news agencies)
Monday, July 3, was the hottest day ever recorded globally, according to data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction.
The average global temperature reached 17.01 degrees Celsius (62.62 Fahrenheit), surpassing the August 2016 record of 16.92C (62.46F) as heatwaves sizzled around the world.
The southern U.S. has been suffering under an intense heat dome in recent weeks. In China, an enduring heatwave continued, with temperatures above 35C. North Africa has seen temperatures near 50C.
And even Antarctica, currently in its winter, registered anomalously high temperatures. Ukraine's Vernadsky Research Base in the continent's Argentine Islands recently broke its July temperature record with 8.7C (47.6F).
"This is not a milestone we should be celebrating," said climate scientist Friederike Otto of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Britain's Imperial College London. "It's a death sentence for people and ecosystems."
Scientists said climate change, combined with an emerging El Nino pattern, were to blame.
"Unfortunately, it promises to only be the first in a series of new records set this year as increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases coupled with a growing El Nino event push temperatures to new highs," said Zeke Hausfather, a research scientist at Berkeley Earth, in a statement.
"The average global surface air temperature reaching 17C for the first time since we have reliable records available is a significant symbolic milestone in our warming world," said climate researcher Leon Simons.
"Now that the warmer phase of El Nino is starting we can expect a lot more daily, monthly and annual records breaking in the next 1.5 years."
Monday's record temperature comes as the month of June was confirmed as the hottest June in the global record. Average temperatures across the planet were 1.46C above the average in the period between 1850 and 1900.
"Chances are that July will be the warmest ever, and with it the hottest month ever: 'ever' meaning since the Eemian which is some 120,000 years ago," said Karsten Haustein, from the University of Leipzig.
15 June 2023
Following is the transcript of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ press conference, in New York today:
"We are months away from the SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] and Climate Ambition Summits, with COP 28 [twenty-eighth United Nations Climate Change Conference] following soon after.
I am very worried about where the world stands on climate. Countries are far off track in meeting climate promises and commitments. I see a lack of ambition. A lack of trust. A lack of support. A lack of cooperation. And an abundance of problems around clarity and credibility.
The climate agenda is being undermined. At a time when we should be accelerating action, there is backtracking. At a time when we should be filling gaps, those gaps are growing.
Meanwhile, the human rights of climate activists are being trampled. The most vulnerable are suffering the most. Current policies are taking the world to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century.
That spells catastrophe. Yet the collective response remains pitiful. We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open — with far too many willing to bet it all on wishful thinking, unproven technologies and silver bullet solutions.
It’s time to wake up and step up. It’s time to rebuild trust based on climate justice. It’s time to accelerate the just transition to a green economy. Limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C is still possible. We must consider this as a moment of hope. But it will require carbon emissions to be cut by 45 per cent by 2030.
To help get us there, I have proposed a Climate Solidarity Pact in which all big emitters would make extra efforts to cut emissions and wealthier countries support emerging economies to do so.
And I have put forward an Acceleration Agenda to supercharge these efforts. I urge Governments to make it happen by hitting fast forward on their net zero deadlines so that developed countries commit to reaching net-zero as close as possible to 2040 and emerging economies as close as possible to 2050.
Developed countries must abide by their commitments on finance, adaptation, and loss and damage. They must also push Multilateral Development Banks to adapt their business models, skill sets, and approaches to risk in order to leverage far more private finance at reasonable cost to developing countries to allow for a massive increase in investment in renewables. That investment is the only way to achieve global energy security independent of the present unpredictable market fluctuations.
And in every country, without exception, civil society voices must be heard. They must be at the table helping to shape policy and on the ground helping to deliver change.
All of this action must be global. It must be immediate. And it must start with the polluted heart of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry. Let’s face facts. The problem is not simply fossil fuel emissions. It’s fossil fuels — period.
The solution is clear: the world must phase out fossil fuels in a just and equitable way — moving to leave oil, coal and gas in the ground where they belong and massively boosting renewable investment in a just transition.
Fossil fuel industry transition plans must be transformation plans that chart a company’s move to clean energy and away from a product incompatible with human survival. Otherwise, they are just proposals to become more efficient planet-wreckers.
Of course, we must recognize that transformations don’t happen overnight. Transition plans are precisely to provide a road map for a managed, orderly process that guarantees affordability, access and energy security.
How do we get there? Our Acceleration Agenda calls on Governments to: commit to no new coal; complete phasing out coal by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 elsewhere; end all international coal funding — both public and private.
End licensing or funding of new oil and gas; stop the expansion of existing oil and gas reserves and support the just transition of the impacted developing countries; ensure net zero electricity generation by 2035 in developed countries and 2040 everywhere else.
Shift subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables and to a just energy transition; put a price on carbon; and establish a progressive global phase-out of existing oil and gas production compatible with global net zero emissions by 2050.
But the fossil fuel industry and its enablers have a special responsibility. Last year, the oil and gas industry reaped a record $4 trillion windfall in net income. Yet for every dollar it spends on oil and gas drilling and exploration, only 4 cents went to clean energy and carbon capture… combined.
Trading the future for thirty pieces of silver is immoral. The world needs the industry to apply its massive resources to drive, not obstruct, the global move from fossil fuels to renewables and reap the benefits in they themselves lead the transition.
Yet right now, the industry is not even reaching the very low operational emissions reductions targets it has set for itself. Many are running late, and most rely on dubious offsets. I call on all fossil fuel companies to present credible, comprehensive and detailed new transition plans — fully in line with all the recommendations of my High-level Expert Group on net zero pledges.
These plans must cover all activities — up and down the value chain. That must include reducing emissions from production, processing, transmission, refining, distribution and use. And they must establish clear, near-term targets that chart the business’ transition to clean energy.
Fossil fuel companies must also cease and desist influence peddling and legal threats designed to knee-cap progress. I am thinking particularly of recent attempts to subvert net zero alliances, invoking anti-trust legislation.
Governments are pivotal in setting the record straight. They must help by providing clear reassurance: collective climate action does not violate anti-trust — it upholds the public trust.
At the same time, financial institutions must encourage this transformation of the fossil fuel industry. I urge all financial institutions to present public, credible and detailed plans to transition their funding from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Again, we know that this transition will not occur overnight. These plans should contain clear targets for 2025 and 2030. They should include an explicit strategy to progressively strip out fossil fuel assets from their portfolios to ensure they become credibly net-zero aligned.
They must show how capital expenditure, research and development, and investments are aligned with net-zero targets. And they must disclose all lobbying and policy engagement activities. Financial institutions everywhere must end lending, underwriting, and investments in coal anywhere — including new coal infrastructure, power plants, and mines.
And they must commit to end financing and investment in exploration for new oil and gas fields, and expansion of oil and gas reserves — investing instead in the just transition in the developing world.
To those finance institutions already shifting from fossil fuels to renewables, I have a special message of hope and encouragement: do not relent in the face of attacks on progress. You are doing the right thing. Keep going.
As my discussion with civil society leaders today made clear, there is simply too much at stake for us to be silent. There is too much at risk for us to sit on the side-lines. Now must be the time for ambition and action. I look forward to welcoming first movers and doers at my Climate Ambition Summit in September. The world is watching — and the planet can’t wait".
5 June 2023
Carbon dioxide levels measured at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory peaked at 424 parts per million (ppm) in May, continuing a steady climb further into territory not seen for millions of years, scientists from NOAA and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego announced today.
Measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) obtained by NOAA’s Global Monitoring Laboratory averaged 424 parts per million in May, the month when CO2 peaks in the Northern Hemisphere. That represents an increase of 3.0 ppm over May 2022.
Scientists at Scripps Oceanography, which maintains an independent record, calculated a May monthly average of 423.78 ppm. That increase is also a jump of 3.0 ppm over the May 2022 average reported by the Scripps CO2 Program.
“Sadly we’re setting a new record,” said Scripps Oceanography geoscientist Ralph Keeling, who oversees the iconic Keeling Curve record established by his father 65 years ago. “What we’d like to see is the curve plateauing and even falling because carbon dioxide as high as 420 or 425 parts per million is not good. It shows as much as we’ve done to mitigate and reduce emissions, we still have a long way to go.”
CO2 levels are now more than 50% higher than they were before the onset of the industrial era.
“Every year we see carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere increase as a direct result of human activity,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “Every year, we see the impacts of climate change in the heat waves, droughts, flooding, wildfires and storms happening all around us. While we will have to adapt to the climate impacts we cannot avoid, we must expend every effort to slash carbon pollution and safeguard this planet and the life that calls it home.”
CO2 pollution is generated by burning fossil fuels for transportation and electrical generation, by cement manufacturing, deforestation, agriculture and many other practices. Like other greenhouse gases, CO2 traps heat radiating from the planet’s surface that would otherwise escape into space, amplifying extreme weather events, such as heat waves, drought and wildfires, as well as precipitation and flooding.
Rising CO2 levels also pose a threat to the world's ocean, which absorbs both CO2 gas and excess heat from the atmosphere. Impacts include increasing surface and subsurface ocean temperatures and the disruption of marine ecosystems, rising sea levels and ocean acidification, which changes the chemistry of seawater, leading to lower dissolved oxygen, and interferes with the growth of marine organisms.
June 2023
Children are being failed by climate funding commitments, despite bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, according to a new report from members of the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI) coalition; Plan International, Save the Children, and UNICEF.
Just 2.4% of key global climate funds can be classified as supporting child-responsive activities, the report finds. According to UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index, more than a billion children are at extremely high risk of the impacts of the climate crisis.
Maria Marshall, a 13-year-old UNICEF child advocate and climate activist from Barbados said, “Children are the future, but our future is shaped by the actions of those making decisions in the present, and our voices are not being heard. As this report shows, funding climate solutions is an obligation, but how that money is spent also matters. Children’s needs and perspectives must be included.”
The study, Falling short: addressing the climate finance gap for children used a set of three criteria to assess if climate finance from key multilateral climate funds (MCFs) serving the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement were: addressing the distinct and heightened risks they experience from the climate crisis, strengthening the resilience of child-critical social services and empowering children as agents of change.
“The findings are stark,” said Kabita Bose, Country Director at Plan International Bangladesh. “Urgent and effective investment is key to adapting to climate change, and is particularly critical for children, especially girls who are highly susceptible to the short and long-term impacts. Yet current spending almost ignores children entirely – this needs to change.”
The report found that out of all the money given by MCFs for climate-related projects over a period of 17 years until March 2023, only a small portion (2.4%) met all three of the requirements which amounted to only $1.2 billion. The report also says that this number likely reflects an overestimate, meaning that even less money may have met all the requirements.
Children most affected by climate emergency
“Children, especially those already affected by inequality and discrimination, have done the least to cause climate change but are most affected by it. Climate finance offers an opportunity to tackle these injustices by considering the needs and perspectives of children,” said Kelley Toole, Global Head of Climate Change at Save the Children.
“This has been woefully inadequate to date but can and must change. To really tackle the climate crisis, we must put child rights at the heart of our response and ensure children’s voices are heard”.
While MCFs provide a relatively small share of overall climate finance, the degree to which these funds consider children matters greatly.
MCFs have a vital role to play in agenda-setting, and in catalysing and coordinating investments by other public and private finance institutions, including at national levels, which are necessary to drive a broader change.
Children are disproportionately vulnerable to water and food scarcity, water-borne diseases, and physical and psychological trauma, all of which have been linked to both extreme weather events and slow-onset climate effects.
There is also evidence that changing weather patterns are disrupting children’s access to basic services such as education, healthcare, and clean drinking water.
We must fund adaptation
“Every child is exposed to at least one – and often multiple – climate hazards. The finance and investment that is desperately needed to adapt critical social services like health and water to climate hazards is insufficient and largely blind to the urgent and unique needs of children. This must change. The climate crisis is a child rights crisis, and climate finance must reflect this,” said Paloma Escudero, Special Adviser for Climate Advocacy at UNICEF.
The report highlights that when it comes to children, they are often viewed as a vulnerable group rather than being recognised as active stakeholders or agents of change. Less than 4% of projects, amounting to just 7% of MCF investment ($2.58 billion), give explicit and meaningful consideration to the needs and involvement of girls.
Children face increased risks because of climate crisis
The report is informed by the voices of children from around the world, who said that they face increased risks because of climate change.
A teenage girl in Zimbabwe said, “In Chiredzi, we learned that some girls cannot swim across flooded rivers to go to school or go home whilst boys can. Girls must walk for up to 10-15km to get to school. They get tired along the way before they even start classes.”
A 13-year-old boy from Bangladesh added, “Lots of large-scale disasters hit our district which causes people to become impoverished, and children like us are engaged in child labour.”
The Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative coalition is urging multilateral climate funds, as well as other climate finance providers providing climate finance at both the international and national levels, to act quickly and address the adaptation gap.
They are specifically calling for funding to cover losses and damages caused by climate change. This funding should prioritise the well-being of children and critical social services that support them. The focus should be on reaching and assisting the children who are most vulnerable and at high risk due to climate impacts.
June 2023
The world is at a “tipping point” in the climate crisis that requires all countries to put aside their national interests to fight for the common good, the UN’s top climate official has warned.
Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, pointed to recent findings from scientists that temperatures were likely to exceed the threshold of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels within the next five years.
“Climate change is accelerating, and we are lagging behind in our actions to stem it,” he warned. “Remember the best available science, which doesn’t arbitrate on who needs to do what or who is responsible for what. The science tells us where we are and highlights the scale of response which is required.”
Stiell was addressing representatives from nearly 200 countries gathered in Bonn, the UN’s climate headquarters, to discuss how to forge a “course correction” that would put the world on track to meet the aspirations of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and limit global heating to 1.5C.
He urged countries to put aside their differences, after more than 30 years of negotiations since the United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) was signed in 1992.
The Bonn conference, a preparatory meeting intended to lay the technical groundwork for the much bigger Cop28 summit that starts in November, opened amid long-simmering contentions. The start of the conference was delayed by two hours as delegates wrangled over the agenda for the next nine days of talks, and the talks have had to start work with a draft agenda while arguments rumbled on.
The Guardian understands that the EU and many developing countries wanted an agenda item to discuss the “mitigation work programme”, which deals with countries’ commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while China fought for a mandate to discuss countries’ plans for adapting to the impacts of the climate crisis.
Other key sources of contention included a resolution to phase out fossil fuels, the role of renewable energy, the issue of loss and damage, which refers to funds to help rescue and rehabilitate poor countries struck by climate disaster, and the global stocktake, which is an assessment of how far off track governments are in meeting their Paris pledges.
Stiell did not name these issues directly, but urged governments to find common ground. “There is at times tension between national interest and the global common good. I urge delegates to be brave, to see that by prioritising the common good, you also serve your national interests – and act accordingly,” he said.
The world needs to phase out fossil fuels if it wants to curb devastating global warming, the United Nations climate chief said, but the idea might not even make it onto the agenda of “make-or-break” negotiations.
The phase-out of heat-trapping fossil fuels “is something that is at top of every discussion or most discussions that are taking place”, Simon Stiell said.
“It is an issue that has global attention. How that translates into a climate talks outcome – we will see.”
Stiell said he could not promise ending the use of coal, oil, and natural gas would get a spot on the agenda in climate talks, called COP28, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, later this year.
That agenda decision is up to the president of the negotiations – Sultan Al Jaber, head of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company – Stiell said.
The decision by the host nation UAE to make Al Jaber the head of the climate conference has drawn fierce opposition from lawmakers in Europe and the United States, as well as environmental advocates.
Last year at climate talks, a proposal by India to phase out all fossil fuels, supported by the US and many European nations, never got on the agenda. What gets discussed is decided by the COP president, who last year was the foreign minister of Egypt, a natural gas exporting nation.
Stiell walked a fine line between talking about the importance of a fossil fuel phase-out and supporting the UN process that has put countries that export oil and natural gas in charge of negotiations about global warming for two consecutive years.
About 94 percent of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide that human industrial activity put in the air last year was from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, according to the scientists who monitor emissions at Global Carbon Project.
The issue of a coal, oil and natural gas phase-out is central to the fight against climate change, but the real issue is getting something done, Stiell said.
In public appearances, Al Jaber has emphasised being “laser-focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions,” not necessarily the fuels themselves, by promoting carbon capture and removal of the pollutant from the air.
Stiell dismissed the idea that carbon removal can be a short-term solution.
“Right now, in this critical decade of action to achieve those deep reductions, the science tells us it can only be achieved through the reduced use, significantly reduced use, of all fossil fuels,” he said.
The United Arab Emirates’ approach to the Cop28 climate summit it will preside over in November is “very dangerous” and a “direct threat to the survival of vulnerable nations”, according to the UN’s former climate chief.
Christiana Figueres, who was pivotal to the delivery of the landmark Paris climate agreement in 2015, also said the country holding the presidency of the UN summit could not put forward its own position and had to be neutral.
The UAE is a big oil and gas producer, and the designated president of the Cop28 summit is Sultan Al Jaber, who is also the head of the UAE’s national oil and gas company, Adnoc.
Figueres was responding to a speech by Al Jaber in which he said: “We must be laser focused on phasing out fossil fuel emissions, while phasing up viable, affordable zero carbon alternatives.”
That was widely interpreted to mean using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to capture CO2 emissions, and not completely phasing out fossil fuels themselves. “The fact that ‘emissions’ is in that sentence is very worrisome,” said Figueres.
“So he is trying to dance on two dancefloors at the same time. He is trying to say: ‘Look, those of us who are producers of fossil fuels will be responsible for our emissions through enhanced carbon capture and storage. And we, or the Cop presidency, will also support the zero carbon alternatives.’”
“The fact that he thinks the [fossil fuel] energy used today will continue to be part of the global energy mix for the ‘foreseeable future’, I can see that from a UAE perspective,” Figueres said, adding that foreseeable is a “long time”.
“But from a Cop president perspective, it’s very dangerous. I just don’t see most countries, and certainly not the vulnerable countries, being willing to support the Cop president on this because it is a direct threat to their survival.”
“When you are the president of the Cop, you cannot put forward the position of the country that you’re coming from. You have to be able to be neutral.”
The world must slash CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 to have a chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C. Figueres said: “We do not have CCS commercially available and viable over the next five to seven years. It’s just not going to happen.”
Madeleine Diouf Sarr, the chair of the least developed countries grouping at the UN negotiations, urged all nations to act in the interests of the most vulnerable.
“The success of Cop28 hinges on progress achieved at this Bonn conference. We have to lay the foundations for a Cop28 decision that leads to the curbing of global emissions in line with the 1.5C target and increased funds provided to our countries so we can address the impacts of climate change,” she said.
In a bid to stop heat waves getting hotter and coastal floods stronger, world leaders promised in 2015 to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F) above pre-industrial temperatures by the end of the century. But their current policies are set to nearly double that temperature increase.
To meet their targets, scientists have said, world leaders must immediately burn less coal, oil and gas — and make deep and rapid cuts to emissions in all sectors.
17 May 2023
Global temperatures set to reach new records in next five years. (WMO)
Global temperatures are likely to surge to record levels in the next five years, fuelled by heat-trapping greenhouse gases and a naturally occurring El Nino event, according to a new update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
There is a 66% likelihood that the annual average near-surface global temperature between 2023 and 2027 will be more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one year.
There is a 98% chance of at least one in the next five years beating the temperature record set in 2016, when there was an exceptionally strong El Nino. The chance of the five-year mean for 2023-2027 being higher than the last five years is also 98%.
“This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level with increasing frequency,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
“A warming El Nino is expected to develop in the coming months and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory,” he said.
“This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment. We need to be prepared,” said Prof. Taalas.
“Global mean temperatures are predicted to continue increasing, moving us away further and further away from the climate we are used to,” said Dr Leon Hermanson a Met Office expert scientist who led the report.
In addition to increasing global temperatures, human-induced greenhouse gases are leading to more ocean heating and acidification, sea ice and glacier melt, sea level rise and more extreme weather.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5°C than at present.
Apr. 2023
State of the Global Climate report. (WMO)
From mountain peaks to ocean depths, climate change continued its advance in 2022, according to the annual report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Droughts, floods and heatwaves affected communities on every continent and cost many billions of dollars. Antarctic sea ice fell to its lowest extent on record and the melting of some European glaciers was, literally, off the charts.
The State of the Global Climate 2022 shows the planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
For global temperature, the years 2015-2022 were the eight warmest on record despite the cooling impact of a La Nina event for the past three years. Melting of glaciers and sea level rise - which again reached record levels in 2022 - will continue to up to thousands of yea
“While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events. For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
Throughout the year, hazardous climate and weather-related events drove new population displacement and worsened conditions for many of the 95 million people already living in displacement at the beginning of the year, according to the report.
The report also puts a spotlight on ecosystems and the environment and shows how climate change is affecting recurring events in nature, such as when trees blossom, or birds migrate.
The WMO State of the Global Climate report was released ahead of Earth Day 2023. Its key findings echo the message of UN Secretary-General António Guterres for Earth Day.
Mr. Guterres warned that “biodiversity is collapsing as one million species teeter on the brink of extinction”, and called on the world to end its “relentless and senseless wars on nature”.
“We have the tools, the knowledge, and the solutions. We need accelerated climate action with deeper, faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius. We also need massively scaled-up investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities who have done the least to cause the crisis,” said Mr Guterres.
The years 2015 to 2022 were the eight warmest years on record. Concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – reached record highs in 2021. Real-time data from specific locations show levels of the three greenhouse gases continued to increase in 2022. The annual increase in methane concentration from 2020 to 2021 was the highest on record.
The European Alps smashed records for glacier melt. Measurements on glaciers in High Mountain Asia, western North America, South America and parts of the Arctic all reveal substantial glacier mass losses. Sea ice in Antarctica dropped to 1.92 million km2 on February 25, 2022, the lowest level on record.
Ocean heat content reached a new observed record high in 2022. Global mean sea level (GMSL) continued to rise in 2022, reaching a new record high.
Ocean acidification: CO2 reacts with seawater resulting in a decrease of pH referred to as ‘ocean acidification’. Ocean acidification threatens organisms and ecosystem services. “There is very high confidence that open ocean surface pH is now the lowest it has been for at least 26 thousand years and current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time.
Drought gripped East Africa. Rainfall has been below-average in five consecutive wet seasons, the longest such sequence in 40 years. As of January 2023, it was estimated that over 20 million people faced acute food insecurity across the region, under the effects of the drought and other shocks.
Record breaking rain in July and August led to extensive flooding in Pakistan. There were over 1 700 deaths, and 33 million people were affected, while almost 8 million people were displaced. Total damage and economic losses were assessed at US$ 30 billion.
July (181% above normal) and August (243% above normal) were each the wettest on record nationally.
Record breaking heatwaves affected Europe during the summer. In some areas, extreme heat was coupled with exceptionally dry conditions. Excess deaths associated with the heat in Europe exceeded 15,000 in total across Spain, Germany, the UK, France, and Portugal.
China had its most extensive and long-lasting heatwave since national records began, extending from mid-June to the end of August and resulting in the hottest summer on record.
As of 2021, 2.3 billion people faced food insecurity, of which 924 million people faced severe food insecurity.
Heatwaves in the 2022 pre-monsoon season in India and Pakistan caused a decline in crop yields. This, combined with the banning of wheat exports and restrictions on rice exports in India after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, threatened the availability, access, and stability of staple foods within international food markets and posed high risks to countries already affected by shortages of staple foods.
In Somalia, almost 1.2 million people became internally displaced by the catastrophic impacts of drought on pastoral and farming livelihoods and hunger during the year. A further 512,000 internal displacements associated with drought were recorded in Ethiopia.
The flooding in Pakistan affected some 33 million people, including about 800,000 Afghan refugees hosted in affected districts. By October, around 8 million people have been internally displaced by the floods with some 585,000 sheltering in relief sites.
Environmental impacts of climate change are another focus of the report, which highlights a shift in recurring events in nature, “such as when trees blossom, or birds migrate”.
As a result of such shifts, entire ecosystems can be upended. WMO notes that spring arrival times of over a hundred European migratory bird species over five decades “show increasing levels of mismatch to other spring events”, such as the moment when trees produce leaves and insects take flight, which are important for bird survival.
The report says these mismatches “are likely to have contributed to population decline in some migrant species, particularly those wintering in sub-Saharan Africa”, and to the ongoing destruction of biodiversity.

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