Climate impacts leading to ‘uncharted territories of destruction’: UN Chief

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres cautioned that Climate change impacts are "heading into uncharted territories of destruction", on Tuesday on the release of a multi-agency scientific report reviewing the latest research on the issue.

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The world is “going in the wrong direction” the report warns, which is led by the World Meteorological Organisation.

The concentrations of greenhouse gas continue to increase in the atmosphere and world leaders failed to adopt strategies to hold the warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, the Earth is inching closer toward a dangerous climate tipping point, the United Sciences report says.

Already, severe weather occurrences are more frequent and more violent.

“Heatwaves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan…There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters,” Guterres said in a video message.

In spite of a drop in emissions during coronavirus lockdowns, planet-warming emissions have since risen beyond pre-pandemic levels. Preliminary data disclose that global carbon dioxide emissions in the first half of this year were 1.2 percent higher than during the same period in 2019, the report finds.

The previous seven years were the warmest on record.

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The global average temperature has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average. And scientists anticipate the annual average could be anywhere between 1.1C and 1.7C warmer up to 2026 — meaning there’s a chance we could pass the 1.5C warming threshold in the next five years. Read the full story.

At the dusk of the century, without aggressive climate action, global warming is estimated to reach 2.8C.

But even at the current level of warming, we could pass several climate tipping points.

The ocean current that moves heat from the tropics into the northern hemisphere, for example, is presently at its sluggishest in 1,000 years – threatening historic weather patterns, says the report, which contains contributions from the UN Environment Programme and UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Approximately half the world’s population is considered highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change — floods, heat, drought, wildfires, and storms.

By the 2050s, over 1.6 billion city-dwellers will regularly swelter through three-month average temperatures of at least 35C (95F).

To help communities cope, the WMO has promised to put every person on earth under the protection of an early warning system within the next five years.

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