The past decade will go down in history as the hottest on record, according to the United Nations. This was announced on Tuesday, December 3, at the World Conference on Climate Change in Madrid. The years 2010-2019 were marked by “extraordinary heat waves, melting glaciers and global sea level rise,” the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said. In 2019 alone, temperatures were 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, WMO said. It cited numerous wildfires, heat waves and hurricanes as the cause.
2019 was, according to the experts one of the three hottest years since 1850 — after systematic temperature measurements began. The summer of 2016 remains the hottest period on record. Meanwhile, data for 2019 cover the months of January through October. The final data for the current year were available in March 2020.
According to the non-governmental organization Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), in the first half of 2019 alone, seven million people were displaced by climate disasters, mostly due to floods, storms and drought. For its part, WMO warned that the number of people forced to flee their cities and villages because of extreme weather conditions could triple to 22 million by the end of the year.
The two-week World Climate Conference opened in Madrid on December 3. Its participants call for rapid changes in climate policy. UN Secretary General António Guterres told representatives of nearly 200 countries that humanity must choose between a path of “hope” and “surrender” regarding climate change.
The warmest years in the history of the planet were found to be 2020 and 2016. This was reported on Friday, January 8, the EU climate service Copernicus. According to experts, in 2020, the average global temperature on Earth was 1.5 degrees higher than in the pre-industrial period. At the same time, the temperature record of 2016 was repeated, and this despite the cooling caused by the La Niña climate phenomenon.
According to Carlo Buontempo, head of Copernicus, the unusually warm weather of 2020 was “an extra reminder of the urgency of radical emission reductions that would help avoid negative climate impacts in the future.”
In 2016, the Earth’s climate was impacted by the El Niño phenomenon, resulting in an average annual temperature that was 0.1 to 0.2 degrees higher than normal.
El Niño phenomenon is observed regularly on the planet. Two to seven years pass between its manifestation. Its consequence is an increase in the average global temperature on Earth due to the heating of the upper layers of water in the tropical Pacific Ocean. In turn, the antipode of El Niño — the La Niña phenomenon — leads to some cooling of the planet.
In Europe, 2020 was definitely the warmest year on record. According to experts, global temperatures this year were 0.4 degrees above 2019 and 2.2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. According to the Copernicus service, every decade since the 1970s, the global temperature on the planet has increased by an average of 0.2 degrees.
From 2030, carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced by as much as the EU, the Russian Federation, India and Japan together produce in a year, UN experts have calculated. But what will happen if this does not happen?
The 197 nations that signed the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Protection made commitments to combat global warming. Their goal is to prevent the average air temperature from rising by 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. It is agreed and allowed to increase — 1.5 degrees, but even it will be very difficult to comply with, said in the published on November 26 report Global Emissions Gap Report, prepared by experts of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Global warming is caused by increasing CO2 emissions. According to the report, a record 55.3 gigatons of greenhouse gases were emitted into the atmosphere in 2018. In 2017, the figure was 53.5 gigatons.
With these carbon dioxide emissions, it should be assumed that by the end of this century, the Earth’s temperature will rise by 3.2 degrees, with devastating consequences for the planet.
“Our failure a few years ago to deal decisively with climate change has resulted in a need now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 7 percent a year — if you cut emissions evenly over the next decade,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, at the launch of the report. In other words, from 2030, the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere should be reduced worldwide by 15 gigatons each year. This corresponds to the total annual emissions of all 28 countries of the EU, Russia, India and Japan.
The G20 countries are primarily responsible for the growing CO2 emissions. Their emissions total 43 gigatons, accounting for 78 percent of all carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere last year.
The report identifies five main points that should have a significant impact on reducing CO2 in the future: abandoning coal and investing in renewable energy, switching vehicles to alternative fuels, decarbonizing industrial production and improving energy efficiency, providing electricity to the 3.5 billion people currently deprived of it.
Meanwhile, the number of countries, regions and large cities around the world that intend to stop emitting greenhouse gases altogether in the future has risen to 65 so far since last September. Before that, the long-term goal of “carbon neutrality” until 2050 was pursued only by the EU countries that signed the Paris Agreement. Within the G20 countries, Russia also joined this goal.
It is impossible to completely stop the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere without a complete switch to alternative energy sources, the authors of the report believe. But so far, none of the countries that intend to become “climate neutral” by 2050, has set itself such a goal. Instead, coal, gas, and oil production is on the rise worldwide, rising to a record 37 gigatons in 2018. According to the report, global energy production must come from 85 percent renewable sources to meet the target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
"On the one hand we are talking about big ambitions, but on the other hand we are talking about how to quickly achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Above all, the energy and transportation sectors play a crucial role in this. “The UN report points out that technologies that help reduce CO2 emissions quickly and economically have improved dramatically. One example is the price of solar-powered electricity. It has never been as low as it is now and is already comparable to the cost of getting electricity from coal-fired power plants.
Meanwhile, to stop global warming, “values, norms, consumer culture and worldviews need to change. All of this is a significant part of the transformation aimed at preserving life on Earth,” says the UN report.
According to climate scientists, the measures that countries take to recover from the effects of the pandemic will play a key role in the long term.
Pandemic restrictions will have no long-term impact on climate change. That’s the conclusion reached by John Fife of the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis and several of his colleagues. The study is published Friday, March 5, by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a profile science journal.
“Our results make clear that even significant emissions reductions have a small and apparently undocumented impact on climate if they occur over a short period of time,” believe the scientists, who reached such conclusions through a series of models. “In order to slow global warming and eventually stabilize average global temperatures, ‘net-zero emissions’ (NNE) need to be at this level year after year,” the experts emphasize. By NOE environmentalists mean a state where the amount of CO2 emitted does not exceed the amount absorbed by nature, in particular forests and oceans.
In this regard, according to the research team, in the near future, the key role will be played by what steps countries take to recover economies from the effects of the pandemic. These steps can have long-term positive or negative effects on emissions.