United Nations chief calls for greater ambition and urgency in tackling climate change

Pablo Tucker
March 31, 2019

"This wide-ranging and significant report by the World Meteorological Organization clearly underlines the need for urgent action on climate change and shows the value of authoritative scientific data to inform governments in their decision-making process", she wrote in a statement for the report.

Some 35 million people were affected by flooding, and more than 1,600 deaths were related to heatwaves and wildfires in Europe, Japan and the US, data analysed by the WMO showed.

Their report comes in the same week as the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported a surge in Carbon dioxide in 2018.

With no action on climate change, that record warm summer in New Zealand would be counted as a cold summer in another 50 years.

Prof Dave Reay from the University of Edinburgh, said: "These past 25 years the WMO have carefully documented a gathering Perfect Storm where rising global temperatures and a destabilising climate combine with faltering food, water and energy security in a disastrous cocktail for humanity".

"Last year, in the United States alone, we saw 14 weather- and climate-related disasters where the devastation cost more than $1 billion dollars each, with a total of some $49 billion", Guterres said. For 2018 and 2019, greenhouse gas concentrations are expected to increase further.

The report also highlighted how the exposure of the agriculture sector to climate extremes is threatening to reverse gains made in ending malnutrition, with the number of undernourished people increasing to 821 million in 2017, partly due to severe droughts in the previous year.

This is having a significant impact on temperatures, with 2018 the fourth warmest year on record, nearly 1C above what they were in the period between 1850-1900. The heat content of the oceans is a measure of the Energy build-up. In addition, sea levels have risen, the earth's oceans are more acidic and sea ice has melted.

"He could be one of the most deadly weather-related disasters in the southern hemisphere", said the WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

"Extreme weather has continued in the early 2019, most recently with Tropical Cyclone Idai, which caused devastating floods and tragic loss of life in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi".

"Idai's victims personify why we need the global agenda on sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction", Mr Taalas continued.

"The data released in this report give cause for great concern", UN Secretary General António Guterres stated in the report.

The United Nations' weather agency says extreme weather a year ago hit 62 million people worldwide and forced 2 million people to relocate, as man-made climate change worsened.

"There is no longer any time for delay".

Over 1600 deaths were linked to intense heat waves and wildfires in Europe, Japan and the U.S., resulting in record economic damages of almost United States $24 billion in the USA alone.

It was "really not good news" she told reporters during a press conference that carbon dioxide emissions had jumped from 1.6 per cent in 2017, to passing the 2.7 per cent emissions growth, during 2018.

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