Wednesday May 22, 2024

WMO issues red alert over record-breaking climate change indicators

Published : 19 Mar 2024, 23:41

  DF News Desk
Young girls play with water by a fountain near the old town on a hot summer day in Warsaw, Poland. File Photo: Xinhua.

The United Nations'(UN) climate chief issued a red alert on Tuesday as new data showed that records for every single climate indicator were shattered in 2023.

The UN's climate agency, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), has released a new report on the state of the global climate in 2023. It shows that last year, records were broken for various climate change indicators like greenhouse gas levels, surface temperatures, ocean heat and acidification, rising sea levels, Antarctic sea ice cover and glacier retreat.

"This annual report shows that the climate crisis is the defining challenge that humanity faces," WMO Secretary-General Celeste Saulo said at a press conference in Geneva. "It is closely intertwined with the inequality crisis, as witnessed by growing food insecurity, population displacement and biodiversity loss."

Heatwaves, floods, droughts, wildfires and rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones led to misery and mayhem last year, the report underlined, upending life for millions and inflicting many billions of dollars in economic losses.

The WMO confirmed that 2023 was the warmest year on record, with an average global temperature of 1.45 degrees Celsius, with a margin of uncertainty of 0.12 degrees Celsius, above the pre-industrial level.

"Never have we been so close -- albeit on a temporary basis at the moment -- to the 1.5 degree Celsius lower limit of the Paris Agreement on climate change," said the WMO chief.

Over 90 percent of the ocean had experienced heatwave conditions at some point during 2023, and a global set of reference glaciers suffered the largest loss of ice on record, the WMO report showed.

Antarctic sea ice extent retreated to its lowest level ever, with 1 million square kilometers fewer at the end of winter than the previous record year, equivalent to the size of France and Germany combined.

"Earth's issuing a distress call," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message at the conference. "The latest State of the Global Climate report shows a planet on the brink. Fossil fuel pollution is sending climate chaos off the charts."

Meanwhile, observed concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide -- reached record levels in 2022 and continued to increase in 2023. Carbon dioxide levels are 50 percent higher than in the pre-industrial era.

"The long lifetime of CO2 means that temperatures will continue to rise for many years to come," the report warned.