Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, said that the planet is on the verge of tipping into irreversible climate chaos. GHG emissions have reached record levels in the atmosphere. Emissions of methane, a gas 25 times more potent than CO2 on a global warming potential (GWP) basis, have exceeded all historical thresholds.
“CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are so high that the 1.5°C target is barely within the realm of possibility,” said WMO director Petteri Taalas. “It is already too late for many glaciers and the melting will continue for hundreds or even thousands of years, with major consequences on water supply.”
Sea levels are also at a “record high” in 2022, rising 10 mm since January 2020, or 10% of the rise recorded since satellite measurements began nearly 30 years ago. And the rate has doubled since 1993. The planet has also been hit by a spate of extreme events this year, from historic floods in Pakistan to repeated heat waves in Europe and drought in the Horn of Africa. The melting of glaciers is getting worse with the Alps losing 4 meters of height only in 2022.
It is already too late for many glaciers and the melting will continue for hundreds or even thousands of years.Petteri Taalas, WMO director
With an estimated average temperature of 1.15° C above that of the re-industrial era, 2022 is expected to rank only fifth or sixth among these warmest years, due to the unusual influence, for a third consecutive year, of the ocean phenomenon La Niña, which causes temperatures to drop. “But this does not reverse the long-term trend, it is only a matter of time before there is another warmer year,” insisted the WMO.
The eight years from 2015 to 2022 will probably be the eight hottest years on record, estimated the WMO, which will publish its final assessment in 2023. The average temperature over the decade 2013-2022 is estimated to be 1.14°C above that of the pre-industrial era, compared to 1.09°C over the period 2011-2020.
The Paris Climate Agreement aims to limit warming to well below 2°C, if possible 1.5°C. While science has proven that every tenth of a degree multiplies extreme weather events, this most ambitious goal of +1.5°C has become the goal to keep.