Last Eight Years Each Hotter Than Any Prior to 2015
As COP27 begins, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced a new report that shows that each of the last eight years have been hotter than any year before 2015.
The planet has warmed over 1.1 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century -- half of that increase occurring in the past 30 years, according to the report. That rise in temperature has induced a number of disasters, from a two-month heatwave in South Asia, flooding in Pakistan, drought in East Africa, and more.
WMO: Provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 report, November 6, 2022.
DW: Last 8 years set to be hottest on record as world leaders meet at COP27, November 6, 2022.
The report states:
The tell-tale signs and impacts of climate change are becoming more dramatic. The rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993. It has risen by nearly 10 mm since January 2020 to a new record high this year. The past two and a half years alone account for 10% of the overall rise in sea level since satellite measurements started nearly 30 years ago.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the report “a chronicle of climate chaos,” emphasizing "As COP27 gets underway, our planet is sending a distress signal.”
Guardian: Pakistan floods affect 33 million people as national emergency declared, August 26, 2022.
FRANCE 24: Nigeria's worst floods in a decade kill 600, displace 1.3 million, October 17, 2022.
CBS: More than 120 million Americans face extreme heat, July 21, 2022.
ABC: Hurricane Ian expected to cost Florida $258 billion, September 29, 2022.
Why this Matters
This report underscores the dire need for action at COP27. Going into the summit, many nations have walked back their climate commitments in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The latest UN Emissions Gap Report suggests that the current national commitments put the world on track to warm between 2.4 and 2.6 degrees Celsius (4.3 and 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.
UN: António Guterres | Emissions Gap Report 2022 Message, October 27, 2022.
DW: Floods, drought and the consequences of extreme weather (Documentary), July 26, 2022.
The report makes clear that rich countries certainly need to make more drastic emissions cuts -- and stick to them -- but they also need to help developing nations, who suffer the brunt of the impacts of climate change, weather the storm -- literally. This call for reparations from rich countries, referred to as “loss and damage,” is a central issue up for discussion at the summit. This is not a new concept — in 2009, rich countries most responsible for global warming pledged to give $100 billion per year to developing countries by 2020. This didn’t happen, and as the effects of climate change worsen, nations are taking high emitters to task. Pakistan, which became the “poster child of climate impacts” after its disastrous flood season, is leading a bloc of more than 100 developing nations demanding aid.
COP26 President Alok Sharma summed up the issue in advance of the first day of the summit: “We must find the ability to focus on more than one thing at once. How many more wake-up calls do world leaders actually need?”
MSNBC: Chris Hayes | We Must Pay Attention To 'Urgent Crisis’ Of Extreme Heat Events, May 23, 2022.
Democracy Now: Stronger & Wetter | Michael Mann on How Climate Change Makes Storms Worse & Why We Must Cut Emissions, May 10, 2022.
PBS: Report shows devastating economic impact of rising sea levels along American coast, September 14, 2022.
Who’s Going to Pay?
While most agree that rich countries should provide aid to developing nations, the questions of which countries should pay, how much they owe and to whom they should pay the money, and over what period of time, remain controversial.
The Newsmakers: Are rich nations responsible for Pakistan’s Floods?, September 5, 2022.
Some countries have begun to develop financing plans. France committed to funding €6bn per year for climate action in developing countries until 2025, while the Netherlands plans to expand its annual climate aid fund to at least €1.8bn in 2025. On Monday, Germany and Belgium committed €170 million and €2.5 million, respectively, towards loss and damage.
This is not enough to keep up with climate costs. Daniel Ribeiro of Mozambican environmental advocacy group Justiça Ambiental said Belgium's pledge was "a single act floating in a sea of inaction by the global north.”
The cost of climate change for developing countries will be much higher than what rich countries have pledged so far. According to France 24:
Depending on how deeply the world slashes carbon pollution, loss and damage from climate change could cost developing countries $290 to $580 billion a year by 2030, reaching $1 trillion to $1.8 trillion in 2050, according to the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London.
FRANCE 27: COP27 | North-South, a growing divide, November 4, 2022.
Euronews: Loss and damage | How climate reparations are pitting the North against the South, June 1, 2022.
DW: This is just how unfair climate change is, May 21, 2021.
But some preventative measures may not have such a large price tag. The UN announced a new five year plan to build an early warning system for deadly extreme weather events across the globe. While this project is large in scope, it will be relatively cheap at $3.1 billion, or less than 50 cents per person on Earth.
The philanthropic sector has also been reluctant to commit to repaying loss and damage, focusing instead on mitigation. On Sunday, the head of the Bezos Earth Fund, a coalition of billionaires putting money into stopping climate change, said that they are already doing enough by funding climate and conservation projects, adding that “it’s not [their] job” to help developing nations cope with natural disasters.
Amina J Mohammed, the deputy secretary-general of the UN, wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian, “The failure of developed countries to honor their commitments is not just an injustice and a failure of global solidarity. It contributes to the serious tensions and divisions that are preventing global action on a host of other issues, from peace and security to human rights.”
DW News: How Pakistan's flood catastrophe destroyed the agricultural industry, Sep 28, 2022.
Al Jazeera: Pakistan flood damage could cost the country about $40bn, October 7, 2022.
UN: UN Secretary-General | "Pakistan is paying a supersized price for manmade climate change,” October 11, 2022.
IIED: Untold stories of climate change loss and damage in the LDCs | Rwanda, Mar 31, 2021.
The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.
PBS: What Will Earth Look Like When These 6 Tipping Points Hit?, September 6, 2022.