WMO sounds climate alarm
World heading ‘in wrong direction’ on emissions
Published: Sep 14, 2022 09:36 PM
Climate science has shown clearly that the world is going "in the wrong direction" in fighting climate change, and that without much more ambitious action, the physical and socioeconomic impacts will be increasingly devastating, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned in a report published on Tuesday.

According to "United in Science," a multi-agency report coordinated by the WMO, urgent action is needed to ­mitigate emissions and adapt to the changing climate, because countries collectively are falling short of meeting their new or updated pledges with current policies.

The report assesses the most recent scientific findings related to climate change, its impacts and responses. It shows that greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs, as fossil fuel emission rates are now above pre-COVID-19 levels after a temporary drop due to lockdowns. The ambition of emissions reduction pledges for 2030 needs to be seven times higher to be in line with the 1.5 C reduction goal of the Paris Agreement.

As the past seven years were the warmest on record and global warming increases, "tipping points" in the climate system cannot be ruled out, the report warns. That would cause increasing socio-economic impacts to cities, which are home to billions of people and are responsible for up to 70 percent of human-caused emissions.

"Floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with alarming frequency... There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity's fossil fuel addiction," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message attached to the report.

"This year's 'United in Science' report shows climate impacts heading into the uncharted territory of destruction. Yet each year we double down on this fossil fuel addiction, even as the symptoms get rapidly worse," he said.

According to the UN Environment Program, one of the contributors to the report, new national mitigation pledges for 2030 show some progress toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions but are insufficient. 

The ambition of these new pledges would need to be four times higher to get on track to limit global warming to 2 C and seven times higher to get on track to 1.5 C, as has been stipulated in the Paris Agreement.

"Climate science is increasingly able to show that many of the extreme ­weather events that we are experiencing have become more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change. We have seen this repeatedly this year, with tragic effect," WMO ­Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

"It is more important than ever that we scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate risks in vulnerable communities," he said.