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2020 was one of three warmest years on record: World Meteorological Organisation


NEW DELHI: 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, despite a cooling La Niña event as the global average temperature was about 1.2 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level, according to a new report compiled by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Extreme weather combined with COVID-19 in a double blow for millions of people in 2020. The six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record. 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record.

"It has been 28 years since the World Meteorological Organization issued the first state of the climate report in 1993, due to the concerns raised at that time about projected climate change. While understanding of the climate system and computing power have increased since then, the basic message remains the same and we now have 28 more years of data that show significant temperature increases over land and sea as well as other changes like sea-level rise, melting of sea ice and glaciers and changes in precipitation patterns," said WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas.

The report on the State of the Global Climate 2020 documents indicators of the climate system, including greenhouse gas concentrations, increasing land and ocean temperatures, sea-level rise, melting ice and glacier retreat and extreme weather. It also highlights impacts on socio-economic development, migration and displacement, food security and land and marine ecosystems.

The report comes ahead of the April 22-23 virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, convened by the United States of America. President Biden is seeking to galvanize efforts by the major economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the targets of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to keep temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, and to 1.5°C if possible.

"This report shows that we have no time to waste.  The climate is changing, and the impacts are already too costly for people and the planet.  This is the year for action.  Countries need to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.  They need to submit, well ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, ambitious national climate plans that will collectively cut global emissions by 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels by 2030.  And they need to act now to protect people against the disastrous effects of climate change," said the UN Secretary-General.

In 2020, COVID-19 added a new and unwelcome dimension to weather, climate and water-related hazards, with wide-ranging combined impacts on human health and well-being. Mobility restrictions, economic downturns and disruptions to the agricultural sector exacerbated the effects of extreme weather and climate events along the entire food supply chain, elevating levels of food insecurity and slowing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The pandemic also disrupted weather observations and complicated disaster risk reduction efforts.

The report illustrates how climate change poses a risk to the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals, through a cascading chain of interrelated events. These can contribute to reinforcing or worsening existing inequalities.  In addition, there is the potential for feedback loops which threaten to perpetuate the vicious cycle of climate change.