A group of global partner organisations, coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and led by the UN Secretary-General, has released a report summarizing the latest scientific evidence on the effects and responses of climate change. The publication highlights “the huge gap between ambition and reality” and calls for “much more ambitious action” to thwart the increasingly devastating physical and socioeconomic effects of global warming.
The report, titled United in Science, includes input from the WMO, the Global Carbon Project (GCP), the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the Met Office (UK), the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), jointly managed by the WMO, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO) and the International Science Council (ISC).
The report warns that “urgent action is needed to reduce emissions and adapt to our changing climate”. It also notes that climate-related disasters “reduce progress in achieving the [SDGs] and exacerbate existing poverty and inequality.” The report provides consistent scientific information on some of the current and projected impacts of climate change to inform decision-makers.
The report’s chapters, each authored by one or more contributing organizations, address greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, global greenhouse gas emissions and budgets, the state of the global climate in 2018-2022, global climate projections for 2022-2026, and the Emissions gap, tipping points in the climate system, climate change in cities, extreme weather events and socio-economic impacts, and supporting adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR) through early warning systems.
The report highlights five key messages:
- Atmospheric GHG concentrations continue to rise. Fossil fuel emissions have now exceeded pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to COVID-19-related lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.
- In recent years, global temperatures and ocean heat have reached record highs. Looking ahead, “there is a 48% chance that the mean annual temperature will temporarily be 1.5°C higher for at least one year in the next five years than it was in 1850-1900.”
- Reduction commitments are not enough to achieve the Paris climate agreement. More ambitious action is needed to prevent the sustained warming that increases the likelihood of “tipping points,” or irreversible changes in the climate system.
- The effects of climate change affect billions of people around the world. Cities are responsible for up to 70% of man-made emissions. Urban populations will face increasing socio-economic impacts, and the world’s most vulnerable will suffer the most.
- Adaptation is essential to reduce the risks of climate impacts. Early warning systems can save lives, reduce loss and damage, contribute to DRR and support climate change adaptation.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said at the September 13, 2022 launch that the increasing likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events due to human-caused climate change has highlighted the urgent need to “intensify action on early warning systems to strengthen current resilience and future climate risks in vulnerable communities.” He reiterated that WMO “leads an initiative over the next five years to ensure early warning for all” – an initiative originally launched by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on World Meteorology Day – March 23 2022 – was launched. [Publication: United in Science 2022] [Publication Landing Page] [Publication Webpage] [WMO Press Release] [UN News Story]