Global warming from greenhouse gas emissions threatens "far-reaching consequences for present and future generations." It is noted in a preliminary report on the state of the climate, published by the UN-affiliated WMO for the opening of the 26th UN Conference on Climate Change (COP26).
Based on data from the first nine months of the year, WMO reported that 2021 is likely to rank as the fifth, sixth or seventh warmest year. The current year was somewhat colder than the previous ones, which is explained by the influence of the natural phenomenon El Niño, which led to a decrease in air temperature at the beginning of the year. However, according to the organization, this does not contradict the general trend of global warming.
The global average temperature from January to September 2021 was by 1.09 degrees Celsius higher than the 1850-1900 average. There is also an acceleration in sea level rise, accompanied by further increases in water temperature and ocean acidification. The hottest year recorded to date was 2016, when the average temperature was by 1.2 degrees higher.
At the same time, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in 2020 reached record levels. Particularly, the indicators for carbon dioxide were 413.2 parts per million, which is 149% higher than the pre-industrial level.
“Growth continued in 2021," the report says.
In 2015, the UN adopted the Paris Climate Agreement, which proclaimed the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preventing the global average annual temperature on the planet from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels by 2100, and taking measures to keep warming within 1.5 degrees.
Since then, the world has witnessed a range of natural disasters, including devastating wildfires in Australia and Siberia, unprecedented heat waves in North America, and heavy rains that have caused massive flooding in Asia, Africa, the United States and Europe.
“Extreme events have become the new normal,” WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said. He drew attention to "growing scientific evidence" that some of these phenomena "bear traces of human-induced climate change."