UN: We are on verge of climate abyss

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres during the launch the “State of the Global Climate in 2020 Report” said that “2020 was 1.2 degrees Celsius hotter than pre-industrial times. We are getting dangerously close to the 1.5 degree Celsius limit that was set by the scientific community. We are on the verge of the abyss”. 

According to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) flagship State of the Global Climate report, the global average temperature in 2020 was about 1.2-degree Celsius above pre-industrial level. 

That figure is “dangerously close” to the 1.5-degree Celsius limit advocated by scientists to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. 

“This report shows that we have no time to waste.  The climate is changing, and the impacts are already too costly for people and the planet.  This is the year for action.  Countries need to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.  They need to submit, well ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, ambitious national climate plans that will collectively cut global emissions by 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels by 2030.  And they need to act now to protect people against the disastrous effects of climate change,” said the UN Secretary-General. 

The State of the Global Climate report also noted how climate change undermines sustainable development efforts, through a cascading chain of interrelated events that can worsen existing inequalities, as well as raise the potential for feedback loops, perpetuating the deteriorating cycle of climate change. 

Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary-Secretary, cautioned that the “negative trend” in climate could continue for the coming decades independent of mitigation efforts, calling for greater investments in adaptation. 

“The report shows that we have not time to waste. The climate is changing, and the impacts are already too costly for people and the planet. This is the year for action”, he said, calling for all countries to commit to zero emissions by 2050. 

In 2020, COVID-19 added a new and unwelcome dimension to weather, climate and water-related hazards, with wide-ranging combined impacts on human health and well-being. Mobility restrictions, economic downturns and disruptions to the agricultural sector exacerbated the effects of extreme weather and climate events along the entire food supply chain, elevating levels of food insecurity and slowing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The pandemic also disrupted weather observations and complicated disaster risk reduction efforts. 

The report illustrates how climate change poses a risk to the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals, through a cascading chain of interrelated events. These can contribute to reinforcing or worsening existing inequalities.  In addition, there is the potential for feedback loops which threaten to perpetuate the vicious cycle of climate change. 

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