UN Secretary-General António Guterres echoed that message, warning that record temperatures and extreme weather were “causing devastation” around the world.
The global response has been “falling short”, Mr Guterres insisted, just as the latest UN data shows the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are only 15% on track halfway through the 2030 Agenda.
“Amplifying progress” on the SDGs
According to the WMO, current policies will cause global warming of at least 2.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century – well above the Agreement’s 1.5°C target. from Paris.
This year’s summer in the northern hemisphere was the hottest on record, prompting the UN chief to reiterate his call last week for “stepped up action”.
In his foreword to the report, Mr. Guterres emphasized that weather, climate and water sciences can “accelerate progress toward achieving the SDGs at all levels.”
Lives in the balance
The United in Science report, which combines the expertise of 18 UN organizations and partners, shows how climate science and early warning can save lives and livelihoods, advance food and water security, clean energy and better health.
Following the recent floods in Libya that cost thousands of lives, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas stressed that a lack of adequate forecasting capacity can have deadly consequences for a country facing extreme weather events. .
He highlighted the risky situation developing in Sudan, where conflict has crippled the agency’s ability to predict dangers.
The head of the country’s meteorological service told him that most of his staff had fled Khartoum and were unable to “run their businesses in a normal way”, he said.
“They are no longer able to predict these kinds of high-impact weather events,” he warned.
Meteorological science is key to food security
Extreme weather events are also a key factor in the spread of world hunger and the new report seeks to inform urgent action on this front, as the UN estimates that almost 670 million people could be suffering from insecurity food in 2030.
The report’s authors explore the link between vital food production and nutrition and investments in weather science and services that enable farmers to make decisions about crops and plantings.
Early warnings are also crucial to “help identify potential areas of crop failure that could lead to emergency situations.”
Anticipate deadly epidemics
“United in Science” includes analysis from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has warned that climate change and extreme events such as heatwaves will “significantly increase health problems and premature deaths.
The report’s findings show that integrating epidemiological and climate information helps predict and prepare for outbreaks of climate-sensitive diseases, such as malaria and dengue.
Limit disaster losses
Early warning systems can also help reduce poverty by giving people the opportunity to anticipate and “limit the economic impact” of disasters.
The WMO-led report shows that between 1970 and 2021, nearly 12,000 disasters linked to extreme weather, climate and water conditions were reported, causing $4.3 trillion in economic losses – the majority of them in developing countries.
Every fraction counts
The WMO lamented that so far there has been “very limited progress” in closing the gap between the pledges made by countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the level emissions reduction actually needed to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature target.
To limit global warming to 1.5°C, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions should be close to zero by 2050.
The report’s authors wrote that while some future climate change is inevitable, “every fraction of a degree and every ton of CO2 counts to limit global warming and achieve the SDGs.”
Early warnings for everyone
WMO also highlighted the importance of the United Nations’ Early Warning for All initiative to ensure that “every person on Earth is protected from dangerous weather, water or climate events through early warning systems that can save lives by the end of 2027.
Currently, only half of the countries in the world report having adequate multi-hazard early warning systems.
The United in Science report was released ahead of the SDG Summit and Climate Ambition Summit taking place at the UN General Assembly next week.
These meetings will “highlight how to save the SDGs mid-term by 2030” and “reinforce ambition to tackle the climate crisis,” the UN chief told reporters in New York on Wednesday.