Five-year period ending 2019 set to be hottest on record: UN report
UNITED STATES: A damning new United Nations report published on Sunday said the world is falling badly behind in the race to avert climate disaster because of runaway warming, with the five-year period ending 2019 set to be the hottest-ever.
It came ahead of a major UN climate summit yesterday that was scheduled to be attended by more than 60 world leaders, as Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pushes for countries to increase their greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The report "highlights the urgent need for the development of concrete actions that halt global warming and the worst effects of climate change," said its authors, the Science Advisory Group to the summit.
Average global temperature between 2015 and 2019 is on track to be the hottest of any five-year period on record, according to the report compiled by the World Meteorological Organisation.
The period "is currently estimated to be 1.1 deg C above pre-industrial (1850-1900) times and 0.2 deg C warmer than 2011 to 2015," it said.
CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS
The past four years were already the hottest since record-keeping began in 1850. Rather than falling, carbon dioxide grew 2 per cent last year, reaching a record high of 37 billion tonnes.
More importantly, there is no sign yet of reaching what is known as "peak emissions" - the point at which levels will start to fall - though these are not growing at the same rate as the global economy.
The 2015 Paris Agreement saw countries lay out national targets to reduce their emissions to limit long-term temperature rise by under 2 deg C or ideally 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels. These are benchmarks that will limit in important ways the impact of warming on world weather systems.
But even if all countries meet the goals they set themselves, the world will warm by 2.9 deg C to 3.4 deg C, the report found.
The current levels of ambition would need to be tripled to meet the 2 deg C goal and increased five-fold to meet the 1.5 deg C goal - technically still possible.
"This reads like a credit card statement after a five-year spending binge," said Professor Dave Reay, chair of carbon management and education at the University of Edinburgh.
"Our global carbon credit is maxed out," he added. "If emissions don't start falling, there will be hell to pay."
The report also found that heatwaves were the deadliest weather hazard in the 2015 to 2019 period. - AFP