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COP28 pushes for global emissions cuts

The past decade has been confirmed the warmest ever recorded, continuing an alarming 30-year trend that the UN weather chief said on Tuesday is “unequivocally driven by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.” 

Marked by record breaking land and ocean temperatures, the decade between 2011-2020 saw continued rising concentrations of greenhouse gasses that “turbo charged” dramatic glacier loss and sea-level rise, according to a new report from the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). 

The report comes as the latest annual UN climate conference, COP28, reaches its midway point in Dubai, where countries have agreed on a new voluntary fund to pay vulnerable nations for losses and damages due to climate change. 

But tough negotiations are ahead in the coming days regarding targets to curb greenhouse emissions and the phase out fossil fuels. 

‘Profound’ impacts on Polar, mountain regions

The WMO Decadal State of the Climate report, which was launched in Dubai, reveals that between 2011 and 2020, more countries reported record high temperatures than in any other decade. 

It also sounds the alarm at the “particularly profound transformation” taking place in the polar regions and high mountains. 

WMO goes on to warn that climate shocks are undermining sustainable development, with a dire impact on global food security, displacement, and migration. 

“Each decade since the 1990s has been warmer than the one before it, and we see no immediate sign of this trend reversing,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said, and underscored: “We are losing the race to save our melting glaciers and ice sheets.” 

“We have to cut greenhouse gas emissions as a top and overriding priority for the planet in order to prevent climate change spiralling out of control,” he urged.

‘A glimmer of hope’

The report paints a grim picture, but it also highlights positive developments, including that successful international efforts to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals under the Montreal Protocol have resulted in a smaller Antarctic ozone hole during the 2011-2020 period. 

In addition, advancements in forecasts, early warning systems, and coordinated disaster management have reduced casualties from extreme events, even though economic losses have increased, the WMO researchers observed. 

Overall, however, the report underscores the need for more substantial measures. Indeed, while public and private climate finance nearly doubled from 2011 to 2020, a sevenfold increase is necessary by the decade’s end to meet climate objectives. 

Source: UN News Centre

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