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WMO urges urgent climate action as 2019 ends warmest decade on record

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Secretary-General of WMO, Petteri Taalas. PHOTO: GettyImages

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has urged urgent action on climate change as the year 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activities.

Secretary-General of WMO, Petteri Taalas, gave the charge yesterday in a statement, as average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and 10-year (2010-2019) remain the highest on record.

“If we do not take urgent climate action now, then we are heading for a temperature increase of more than 3°C by the end of the century, with ever more harmful impacts on human wellbeing.

“We are nowhere near on track to meet the Paris Agreement target.”

“On a day-to-day basis, the impacts of climate change play out through extreme and “abnormal” weather. And, once again in 2019, weather and climate related risks hit hard. Heatwaves and floods, which used to be once in a century events are becoming more regular occurrences.

Countries ranging from the Bahamas to Japan to Mozambique suffered the effect of devastating tropical cyclones. Wildfires swept through the Arctic and Australia,” Taalas said.

Also, 2019 could be the second or third warmest year on record as the WMO provisional statement on the State of the Global Climate, indicate that global average temperature in 2019 (January to October) was about 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record level of 407.8 parts per million in 2018 and continued to rise in 2019. CO2 lasts in the atmosphere for centuries and the ocean for even longer, thus locking in climate change.

Sea level rise has accelerated since the start of satellite measurements in 1993 because of the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, according to the report.

The ocean, which acts as a buffer by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide, is paying a heavy price. Ocean heat is at record levels and there have been widespread marine heat waves.

Seawater is 26 per cent more acidic than at the start of the industrial era. Vital marine ecosystems are being degraded.

The daily Arctic sea-ice extent minimum in September 2019 was the second lowest in the satellite record and October has seen further record low extents. In Antarctica, 2019 saw record low ice extents in some months.


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