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State of the Climate report – the world is already 1.1°C warmer


In a report by by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) it shows 2019 was the second warmest year in the instrumental record. 2015-2019 are the five warmest years on record, and 2010-2019 the warmest decade on record. Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.

2019 ended with a global average temperature of 1.1°C above estimated pre-industrial levels, second only to the record set in 2016, when a very strong El Niño event contributed to an increased global mean temperature atop the overall warming trend.

For Australia, the reports says Australia finished 2019 where it started: with extreme heat. The 2018-2019 summer was the hottest on record, as was December. Australia’s hottest area-averaged day on record (41.9°C) was on 18 December. Australia’s seven hottest days on record, and nine of the ten hottest, occurred in 2019. Despite the severe and prolonged fire season in Australia, daily total wildfire CO2 emissions generally followed the 2003-2018 average.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says “We are currently way off track to meeting either the 1.5°C or 2°C targets that the Paris Agreement calls for,” said in a foreword.

“This report outlines the latest science and illustrates the urgency for far-reaching climate action. It brings together data from across the fields of climate science and lists the potential future impacts of climate change – from health and economic consequences to decreased food security and increased displacement,” he said.

“Given that greenhouse gas levels continue to increase, the warming will continue. A recent decadal forecast indicates that a new annual global temperature record is likely in the next five years. It is a matter of time,” said WMO Secretary-General Taalas.

“We just had the warmest January on record. Winter was unseasonably mild in many parts of the northern hemisphere. Smoke and pollutants from damaging fires in Australia circumnavigated the globe, causing a spike in CO2 emissions. Reported record temperatures in Antarctica were accompanied by large-scale ice melt and the fracturing of a glacier which will have repercussions for sea level rise,” said Mr Taalas.

“Temperature is one indicator of ongoing climate change. Changes in the global distribution of rainfall have had a major impact on several countries. Sea levels are rising at an increasing pace, largely due to the thermal expansion of sea water as well as melting of the largest glaciers, like in Greenland and Antarctica. This is exposing coastal areas and islands to a greater risk of flooding and the submersion of low-lying areas,” said Mr Taalas.

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