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State of the Climate in 2018 shows accelerating climate change impacts
by World Meteorological Organization, agencies
1:29pm 29th Mar, 2019
Apr. 2019
State of the Climate in 2018 shows accelerating climate change impacts (WMO)
The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization.
The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2018, its 25th anniversary edition, highlights record sea level rise, as well as exceptionally high land and ocean temperatures over the past four years. This warming trend has lasted since the start of this century and is expected to continue.
Since the Statement was first published, climate science has achieved an unprecedented degree of robustness, providing authoritative evidence of global temperature increase and associated features such as accelerating sea level rise, shrinking sea ice, glacier retreat and extreme events such as heat waves, said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
These key climate change indicators are becoming more pronounced. Carbon dioxide levels, which were at 357.0 parts per million when the statement was first published in 1994, keep rising to 405.5 parts per million in 2017. For 2018 and 2019, greenhouse gas concentrations are expected to increase further.
The WMO climate statement includes input from national meteorological and hydrological services, an extensive community of scientific experts, and United Nations agencies. It details climate related risks and impacts on human health and welfare, migration and displacement, food security, the environment and ocean and land-based ecosystems. It also catalogues extreme weather around the world.
Extreme weather has continued in the early 2019, most recently with Tropical Cyclone Idai, which caused devastating floods and tragic loss of life in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. It may turn out to be one of the deadliest weather-related disasters to hit the southern hemisphere, said Mr Taalas.
Idai made landfall over the city of Beira: a rapidly growing, low-lying city on a coastline vulnerable to storm surges and already facing the consequences of sea level rise. Idai's victims personify why we need the global agenda on sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, said Mr Taalas.
The start of this year has also seen warm record daily winter temperatures in Europe, unusual cold in North America and searing heatwaves in Australia. Arctic and Antarctic ice extent is yet again well below average.
According to WMO's latest Global Seasonal Climate Update (March to May), above average sea surface temperatures - partly because of a weak strength El Nino in the Pacific - is expected to lead to above-normal land temperature, particularly in tropical latitudes.
The data released in this report give cause for great concern. The past four years were the warmest on record, with the global average surface temperature in 2018 approximately 1C above the pre-industrial baseline, Mr Guterres wrote in the report.
These data confirm the urgency of climate action. This was also emphasized by the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5C. The IPCC found that limiting global warming to 1.5C will require rapid and far reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities and that global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050, wrote Mr Guterres.
There is no longer any time for delay, said Mr Guterres, who will convene a Climate Action Summit at Heads of State level on 23rd September 2019.
The WMO report says that some 62 million people were directly affected by extreme weather and climate in 2018.
"The average number of people exposed to heatwaves has increased by 125 million since the beginning of the century, with deadly consequences."
Earlier this week the International Energy Agency published worrying data, indicating that in 2018 carbon emissions were up 1.7%, as a result of the fastest growth in energy use in the last six years.
* Access the report via the link below:
26 Mar. 2019
Cyclone Idai and floods hit Southern Africa: underlining the reality of climate change, reports Daud Kayisi for Oxfam
The devastating Cyclone Idai that hit south-eastern Africa may be the worst ever disaster to strike the southern hemisphere, according to the UN. Ever-worsening storms and climate change are destroying people's lives - and the poorest are hit hardest.
It is 2am and you are fast asleep. Suddenly you hear people shouting and your neighbors are calling for you to wake up and leave the house immediately.
You grab your four-month old baby, wrap her tight around you, then grab your two daughters not worrying if they are awake or not.
Unimaginable thunder and the roaring of water keep bombarding your ears. The moment you step out of the house, you can hardly see for the thick clouds and heavy rain. You hear an unseen voice shouting at you: Run, it is flooding!
Everyone is in a panic with no sense of no direction and you do not know where to run to. You cannot go back into the house, so the only option you have is climb the nearest tree.
This is exactly happened to 36-year-old Malita Mishoni from Ntowa Village in Mozambique.
For a second, I thought the world was ending - but I looked at my three children and said to myself, I need to do something. I climbed the tree near my house and clung to it while holding onto my three children until dawn, she explains with tears welling in her eyes.
I saw the waters rising and getting closer to where we were and I thought we would die.
I asked Malita what food she and her children had while they were in the tree.
We ate nothing and we never felt hungry, she says.. I stayed in the tree with my two daughters and the baby for two days until the water began subsiding and people with canoes came.
She made it with her children to Bangula Camp in Nsanje district in the southern tip of Malawi. The camp is now home to 5,000 displaced children, women and men from both Malawi and Mozambique who fled their homes with the arrival of Cyclone Idai.
She says, once the waters have subsided, she would like to go back and begin a new life again. Malita is among the 1,000 households at the camp that are receiving aid from Oxfam.
John Makina, Oxfam in Malawi Country Director says People have been left with nothing. They need help now and in the months and years ahead to rebuild their communities in a way, which equips them for a world where climate change means extreme weather events such as Idai happen more often.
Idai is yet another deadly warning of the impact of unchecked climate change unless governments, particularly major emitters, fail to cut emissions fast.
Climate change will have the greatest impact on those living in poverty, but also threatens democracy and human rights, according to a UN expert.
Even if current targets are met, tens of millions will be impoverished, leading to widespread displacement and hunger, said the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, in a report released today.
Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction, Alston said. It could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work.
Even the unrealistic best-case scenario of 1.5C of warming by 2100 will see extreme temperatures in many regions and leave disadvantaged populations with food insecurity, lost incomes, and worse health. Many will have to choose between starvation and migration.
Perversely, while people in poverty are responsible for just a fraction of global emissions, they will bear the brunt of climate change, and have the least capacity to protect themselves, Alston said.
We risk a climate apartheid scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.
Climate change has immense, but largely neglected, implications for human rights. The rights to life, food, housing, and water will be dramatically affected.
But equally importantly will be the impact on democracy, as governments struggle to cope with the consequences and to persuade their people to accept the major social and economic transformations required.
In such a setting, civil and political rights will be highly vulnerable, the Special Rapporteur said.
Most human rights bodies have barely begun to grapple with what climate change portends for human rights, and it remains one on a long laundry list of issues, despite the extraordinarily short time to avoid catastrophic consequences, Alston said.
As a full-blown crisis that threatens the human rights of vast numbers of people bears down, the usual piecemeal, issue-by-issue human rights methodology is woefully insufficient.
Sombre speeches by government officials at regular conferences are not leading to meaningful action. States have marched past every scientific warning and threshold, and what was once considered catastrophic warming now seems like a best-case scenario, Alston said. Even today, too many countries are taking short-sighted steps in the wrong direction.
States are failing to meet even their current inadequate commitments to reduce carbon emissions and provide climate financing, while continuing to subsidise the fossil fuel industry with $5.2 trillion per year.
Maintaining the current course is a recipe for economic catastrophe, Alston said. Economic prosperity and environmental sustainability are fully compatible but require decoupling economic well-being and poverty reduction from fossil fuel emissions.
This transition will require robust policies at the local level to support displaced workers and ensure quality jobs. A robust social safety net will be the best response to the unavoidable harms that climate change will bring, Alston said. This crisis should be a catalyst for states to fulfil long ignored and overlooked economic and social rights, including to social security and access to food, healthcare, shelter, and decent work.
Although some have turned to the private sector for solutions, an overreliance on for-profit efforts would nearly guarantee massive human rights violations, with the wealthy catered to and the poorest left behind. If climate change is used to justify business-friendly policies and widespread privatisation, exploitation of natural resources and global warming may be accelerated rather than prevented, Alston said.
There is no shortage of alarm bells ringing over climate change, and an increase in biblical-level extreme weather events appear to be finally piercing through the noise, misinformation, and complacency, but these positive signs are no reason for contentment, Alston said. A reckoning with the scale of the change that is needed is just the first step.

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