Multi-agency Climate Science Report Warns About “Tipping Points” | News | SDG Knowledge Hub | IISD – IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub
A group of global partner organizations, coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), under the direction of the UN Secretary-General, issued a report compiling the most recent science related to climate change impacts and responses. The publication highlights “the huge gap between aspirations and reality,” and calls for “much more ambitious action” to thwart the increasingly devastating physical and socioeconomic impacts of global warming.
Titled, ‘United in Science,’ the report features contributions by WMO, the Global Carbon Project (GCP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Met Office (UK), the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), which is jointly sponsored by WMO, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO), and the International Science Council (ISC).
The report warns that “urgent action is needed to mitigate emissions and adapt to our changing climate.” It also notes that climate-related disasters “set back progress towards achieving the [SDGs] and exacerbate existing poverty and inequality.” The report provides unified scientific information on some of the current and projected climate change impacts to inform decision makers.
The chapters of the report, each drafted by a contributing organization or organizations, address greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, global GHG emissions and budgets, the state of the global climate in 2018-2022, global climate predictions for 2022-2026, the emissions gap, tipping points in the climate system, climate change in cities, extreme weather events and socioeconomic impacts, and supporting adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR) through early warning systems.
The report highlights five key messages:
- Atmospheric GHG concentrations continue to rise. Fossil fuel emissions have now exceeded pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to COVID-19-related lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.
- In recent years, global temperatures and ocean heat have reached record highs. Looking ahead, “there is a 48% chance that, during at least one year in the next five years, annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5°C higher than in 1850-1900.”
- Mitigation pledges are insufficient to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change. More ambitious action is needed to prevent the continued warming that is increasing the likelihood of “tipping points,” or irreversible changes in the climate system.
- Climate change impacts affect billions of people around the world. Cities are responsible for as much as 70% of human-caused emissions. Urban populations will face increasing socioeconomic impacts, and the world’s most vulnerable will suffer most.
- Adaptation is essential to reduce the risks of climate impacts. Early warning systems can save lives, reduce losses and damages, contribute to DRR, and support climate change adaptation.
Speaking at the 13 September 2022 launch, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said the increasing likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events due to human-induced climate change has exposed the urgent need to “scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate risks in vulnerable communities.” He reiterated that WMO “is spearheading a drive to ensure Early Warnings for All in the next five years” – an initiative that was originally launched by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on World Meteorological Day – 23 March 2022. [Publication: United in Science 2022] [Publication Landing Page] [Publication Webpage] [WMO Press Release] [UN News Story]