Planet nears ‘climate catastrophe’ in wake of ‘global energy system’ that it is broken, warned the Secretary General of the United Nations, Anthony Guterresfollowing the publication of “The state of the world’s climate in 2021”, the report of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which revealed an accelerated process of change. During a press conference, the head of the WMO, petteri taalasstressed that climate change “remains humanity’s greatest challenge.
Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat content and ocean acidification “unprecedented values recorded” last year, notes the report.
The data provided by research constitute a “somber confirmation of humanity’s failure to deal with climate change”, defined António Guterres, who called for urgent measures for a transition to renewable energies, “easy to achieve”. This could allow the planet to get out of the “impasse” represented by fossil fuels.
A grim picture of change
Human activity has caused global changes, says WMO report, which says impact on land, ocean and atmosphere has disastrous and long-lasting ramifications for ecosystems .
The seven years between 2015 and 2021 “were the hottest on record”highlights the report, which recalls that La Niña-related weather events in early and late 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures last year.
However, 2021 was one of the hottest years on record, with the average global temperature around 1.11 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a figure that the Paris Agreement tried to limit to +1.5°C. However, Taalas warned, “we are now heading for a warming of 2.5 to 3 degrees instead of 1.5.”
“Heat trapped in the atmosphere by man-made greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations.. Sea level rise, ocean acidification and increased heat content will continue for centuries unless mechanisms are invented to remove carbon from the atmosphere.”
The report also indicates that the number of greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new world record in 2020, with 413.2 parts of carbon dioxide (CO2) per million (ppm) worldwide, 149% higher than the pre-industrial level.
The data indicates that it continued to increase in 2021 and early 2022, with the average monthly CO2 concentration at Mona Loa in Hawaii reaching 416.45 ppm in April 2020, 419.05 ppm in April 2021 and 420.23 ppm in April 2022.
At the same time, mean sea level will reach a new high in 2021, having risen by an average of 4.5 millimeters per year between 2013 and 2021. “This figure, which is more than double that recorded between 1993 and 2002, is mainly due to faster mass loss. ice caps,” the report said.
Rising ocean temperature
Ocean temperatures also set a record last year, and the heat “penetrates deeper and deeper”.
“The upper layer of the oceans, down to 2,000 meters deep, continued to warm in 2021 and there is every indication that it will continue to do so in the future, an irreversible change on timescales ranging from hundreds to thousands of years,” the study found. .
The oceans absorb about 23% of annual man-made CO2 emissions that accumulate in the atmosphere. This slows the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, but the gas still reacts with seawater and leads to ocean acidification.
During this time, the hole in the ozone layeror above Antarctica was “unusually large and deep”, reaching a maximum of 24.8 million km2, an area equivalent to the size of Africa.
Five actions to stop the disaster
António Guterres proposed five actions to promote the transition to renewable energies. .“If we act together, the transformation of renewable energy can be the peace project of the 21st century,” assured the official.
Among the actions, he noted promoting greater access to renewable energy technologies and supply, tripling private and public investment in renewable energy, and ending fossil fuel subsidies.