2022 on track to break grim record as Earth becomes ‘atlas of human suffering’: ScienceAlert

This year’s catastrophic floods, crop-ravaging droughts and record heat waves have shown that climate change warnings are increasingly becoming a reality, and this is ‘just the beginning’, experts say , as international efforts to curb global warming emissions crumble.

The year saw significant progress, with major new legislation, particularly in the United States and Europe, as well as agreement at UN talks to help vulnerable countries cope with a growing onslaught of devastating climate impacts.

But the goal of keeping warming to a safer limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times appears in jeopardy, with carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels – the main driver of global warming – set to dwindle. reach a record level in 2022. .

UN chief Antonio Guterres warned world leaders at a climate summit in Egypt in November that humanity faces a stark choice between working together in the fight against global warming or the ” mass suicide”.

They chose to postpone the most important decisions until another time, observers say.

This year, UN climate science experts issued their strongest warning yet of the dangers facing people and the planet, with a landmark report on climate impacts in February dubbed “The Atlas of human suffering”.

Since then, a series of extreme events have illustrated the accelerating dangers of climate change, just 1.2 degrees Celsius warming.

Record heat waves have damaged crops from China to Europe, while drought has brought millions to the point of starvation in the Horn of Africa.

Climate-change-stressed floods have engulfed Pakistan, affecting 33 million people and causing some $30 billion in damage and economic loss.

“The year 2022 will be one of the hottest years on the planet, with all the phenomena that accompany higher temperatures,” said climatologist Robert Vautard, director of the French Institute Pierre-Simon Laplace.

“Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.”

This year is on track to be the fifth or sixth warmest on record despite the impact since 2020 of La Nina – a periodic, natural phenomenon in the Pacific that cools the atmosphere.

When this phenomenon reverses, potentially within months, the world will likely reach a “new level” of warming, Vautard said.

Always polluting

Economically damaging weather extremes, which amplified soaring energy prices for many countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, served as the backdrop for high-stakes talks high UN climate reports in Egypt last month.

The negotiations made history, with wealthy polluters agreeing to a fund to pay for the increasingly unleashed climate damage on poorer countries.

Pakistan’s Climate Minister Sherry Rehman called the move “a down payment on longer-term investment in our common future”.

But vulnerable nations and activists said the conference failed to cut the emissions needed to limit future climate loss and damage.

“COP27 tackled the consequences of climate change, but not the cause – fossil fuels,” said Harjeet Singh of the Climate Action Network.

To keep the 1.5 degree Celsius limit in play, global warming emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030 and brought to net zero by mid-century.

At the 2021 UN talks in Glasgow, nations were urged to step up their emissions reduction pledges.

But only around 30 countries answered that call, leaving the world on track to warm by around 2.5 degrees Celsius.

‘EMERGENCIES’

António Guterres denounced the failure of climate talks to address the drastic emissions cuts needed, adding: “Our planet is still in the emergency room.”

A crucial meeting in Montreal in December aimed to address another existential crisis facing the planet – the loss of biodiversity – as human activity severely damages nature.

Nations have agreed on a roadmap to reverse decades of environmental destruction threatening land and ocean species and ecosystems that sustain Earth’s survival.

Guterres hailed the deal as a “peace pact with nature”, but some environmentalists warned the plan did not go far enough.

A series of potentially crucial climate milestones will stretch into next year.

These will include spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, following “a formal request to review the international financial system and review the role of international financial institutions” from the climate talks in Egypt, it said. said Laurence Tubiana, who heads the European Union. Climate Foundation.

The next UN climate meeting in November 2023 – to be held in the fossil fuel exporter of the United Arab Emirates – will see the publication of a “global stocktake” of progress on the Agreement’s goal of Paris of 2015 to limit warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably 1.5. degree Celsius.

Tubiana, a key architect of the Paris agreement, said the talks in Dubai are likely to be dominated by discussions of the oil and gas industry and its financial contribution.

The question is likely to create “great tension”, she predicted.

© Agence France-Presse

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