It is very likely that 2017 will be one of the three hottest years on record, with many high-impact events including catastrophic hurricanes and floods, debilitating heatwaves and drought. Long-term indicators of climate change such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, sea level rise and ocean acidification continue unabated. Arctic sea ice coverage remains below average and previously stable Antarctic sea ice extent was at or near a record low.
The WMO statement – which covers January to September - was released on the opening day of the United Nations climate change conference in Bonn. It includes information submitted by a wide range of UN agencies on human, socio-economic and environmental impacts as part of a drive to provide a more comprehensive, UN-wide policy brief for decision makers on the interplay between weather, climate and water and the UN global goals.
“The past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records. This is part of a long term warming trend,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa.
Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, reminded the participants that: “We have some very specific goals we must achieve while we are here in Bonn. We expect these negotiations to be the next essential step that ensures that the Paris Agreement’s structure is completed, its impacts are strengthened, and its goals achieved. We also need to move forward to fulfil the commitments that are due in 2020. In this regard, finance and mitigation pledges are essential.”
Here some figures from UN agencies: around 30% of the world’s population now living in climatic conditions that deliver prolonged extreme heatwaves; last year 23.5 million people were displaced during weather-related disasters.Adverse consequences are concentrated in countries with relatively hot climates and which are home to close to 60% of current global population.