UN Secretary-General António Guterres has described the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) report as a “chronicle of climate chaos” which details the catastrophic speed of climate change, which is devastating lives and livelihoods on every continent.
The WMO, in its latest provisional 2022 State of the Global Climate in 2022, released on Sunday, stated that extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating flooding had also affected millions and cost billions in this year.
The UN has said that the last eight years have been the warmest on record, fuelled by ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat.
Faced with the inevitability of continued climate shocks and extreme weather across the world, Guterres is to launch an action plan at COP27 to achieve Early Warnings for All in the next five years.
The UN chief explained that early warning systems are necessary, to protect people and communities everywhere.
“We must answer the planet’s distress signal with action, ambitious, credible climate action,” he argued.
“COP27 must be the place – and now must be the time,” he said in a statement.
The report outlines the increasingly dramatic signs of the climate emergency, which include a doubling of the rate of sea level rise since 1993, to a new record high this year; and indications of unprecedented glacier melting on the European Alps.
The full 2022 report is due to be released in the Spring of 2023, but the provisional study was brought out ahead of COP27, the UN climate conference, raising awareness of the huge scale of the problems that world leaders must tackle, if they are to have any hope of getting the climate crisis under control.
“The greater the warming, the worse the impacts,” WMO chief Petter Taalas, said at the launch of the report at an event held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
“We have such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now that the lower 1.5 degree of the Paris Agreement is barely within reach.
“It’s already too late for many glaciers and the melting will continue for hundreds if not thousands of years, with major implications for water security”.
The study details the effects of both droughts and excessive rains.
Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia are facing crop failure and food insecurity, because of another season of below-average rains, whilst more than a third of Pakistan was flooded in July and August, as a result of record-breaking rain, displacing almost eight million people.
The southern Africa region was battered by a series of cyclones over two months at the start of the year, hitting Madagascar hardest with torrential rain and devastating floods, and in September, Hurricane Ian caused extensive damage and loss of life in Cuba and southwest Florida.
Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a reminder that the climate crisis continued to make people sick, and called for health to be at the core of the COP27 climate negotiations.
The UN health agency announced a programme of high-level events, scheduled throughout the conference, focusing on the health threat posed by the crisis, and the huge health gains that would come from stronger climate action at the centre of discussions.
The WHO warned that, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress; the direct costs to health are estimated to rise by as much as 4 billion dollars per year by the end of this decade.
However, the agency points out that investment in clean energy will yield health gains that repay those investments twice over: applying higher standards for vehicle emissions, for example, has been calculated to save approximately 2.4 million lives per year.