The average global temperature for the past five years was among the highest on record. There is an increasing likelihood that temperatures will temporarily breach the threshold of 1.5-degree Celsius above the pre-industrial era in the next five years, a new report said on Thursday.
The Covid-19 pandemic did not slow down the relentless advance of climate change, and rising global temperatures are fuelling devastating extreme weather conditions throughout the world, with spiralling impacts on economy and society.
"There is no sign that we are growing back greener, as carbon dioxide emissions are rapidly recovering after a temporary blip due to the economic slowdown and are nowhere close to reduction targets. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue at record levels, committing the planet to dangerous future warming," the new multi-agency report titled 'United in Science 2021' said.
In less than 50 days, countries are to meet for the annual climate change summit in Glasgow in the UK. The summit is a crucial meeting to decide on the future course of action vis-a-vis the Paris Agreement, which mandates that global temperature rise be restricted to 1.5-degree Celsius compared to the pre-industrial levels.
The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole is unprecedented over many centuries. Even with ambitious action to slow greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels will continue to rise and threaten the low-lying islands and coastal populations throughout the world, according to the report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations System's authoritative voice on weather, climate and water.
"This is a critical year for climate action. This report by the United Nations and global scientific partner organizations provides a holistic assessment of the most recent climate science. The result is an alarming appraisal of just how far off course we are," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the foreward of the report.
"We are still significantly off-schedule to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. This year has seen fossil fuel emissions bounce back, greenhouse gas concentrations continuing to rise and severe human-enhanced weather events that have affected health, lives and livelihoods on every continent. Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5-degree Celsius will be impossible, with catastrophic consequences for people and the planet on which we depend," Guterres said.
The 'United in Science 2021' report, the third in a series, is coordinated by the WMO, with inputs from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Global Carbon Project (GCP), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the Met Office (UK).
It presents the very latest scientific data and findings related to climate change to inform global policy and action, a release from the WMO said.
"This report shows that so far in 2021, we are not going in the right direction," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
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