UN Secretary-General: no one is safe

It’s time to turn promises into action, because no one is safe from the natural disasters caused by climate change, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in this year’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Climate Change Report.

“The impacts of climate change are moving into hitherto uncharted areas of devastation,” the UN secretary-general said on Tuesday, commenting on the study.

The WMO-led, multi-agency study, called United in Science, found that while emissions fell during the closures caused by the coronavirus outbreak, global warming emissions have since surpassed pre-outbreak levels, with preliminary data showing that carbon dioxide emissions in the first half of the year were 1.2 percent above the same period in 2019.

The severity of the situation is underlined by the fact that the last seven years have been the hottest on record, according to measurements.

The global average temperature has already risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and experts say it is feared that we could exceed the 1.5 degree Celsius increase by 2026. And by the end of the century, the average temperature of the planet could rise by around 2.8 degrees Celsius in the absence of strong climate protection policies.

“There is nothing natural” about the current scale of natural disasters, the UN secretary-general said in a video message on Tuesday, referring to the heatwaves hitting Europe and the “massive” floods in Pakistan. Guterres linked the study to the importance of introducing so-called early warning systems alongside renewable energy. These would use sensors, event detection systems and information communication networks to give early warning of expected natural disasters so that the affected region can prepare for the impending disaster.

Commenting on the research, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that the 2030 emission reduction targets would need to be increased sevenfold to meet the Paris Agreement. In the 2015 document, signatories agreed to make efforts to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, but the research pointed out that “we are going in the wrong direction horribly”.