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‘Must accelerate climate action,’ says UN after WMO finds 2022 broke records for heatwaves, ice melts & rainfall

New Delhi: Last year broke records for heatwaves, rainfall, and ice melt all over the world, with global warming showing no signs of stopping, according to an annual report by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

The WMO’s State of Global Environment 2022, released Friday, said that despite the cooling effect of the La Nina, global warming reached 1.15 degrees above pre-industrial levels. A La Nina occurs when there is an unusual cooling of sea surface temperatures along the coast of South America, impacting several weather events and causing a cooling effect on global mean temperatures.

However, despite a “triple dip” La Nina, which lasted between 2020 and early 2023, 2022 was the sixth hottest on record. The years between 2015 and 2022 were the eight warmest on record.

The cooling effect of the La Nina didn’t stop marine heatwaves from occurring either. According to the report, 58 per cent of ocean surfaces across the world experienced at least one heat wave in 2022.  “In contrast, only 25% of the ocean surface experienced a marine cold spell,” the report added.

“While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events,” said WMO Secretary-General  Petteri Taalas in a statement.

For example, he said, “In 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record-breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage.”

Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – potent greenhouse gasses – reached record highs in 2021, but real time data from specific locations “show that levels of the three greenhouse gasses continued to increase in 2022,” said the report.

Global heating also led to a 1.18 metre-loss for glaciers in 2022, according to observations from 40 glaciers across the world, “much larger than the average of the last decade”. The European Alps witnessed the most loss, according to the report.

Human cost

The report also outlines the human cost of global warming. Climate change induced drought led to the internal displacement of 1.2 million pastoralists and farmers in Somalia, while heatwaves caused crop yields in India and Pakistan to shrink in 2022.

Heatwaves across Europe led to the deaths of approximately 15,000 people – “around 4,600 deaths in Spain, 4,500 in Germany, 2,800 in the United Kingdom (among those aged 65 and older), 2,800 in France and 1,000 in Portugal were associated with the unusual heat,” said the report.

Climate change is also causing ecological processes to shift. Blooming of cherry blossoms in Japan is happening much earlier than it used to, on account of warmer temperatures.

“We have the tools, the knowledge, and the solutions. But we must pick up the pace. We need accelerated climate action with deeper, faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a statement.

“We also need massively scaled-up investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities who have done the least to cause the crisis,” he added. 

(Edited by Smriti Sinha)

Source: The Print

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