Will COP27 slow down global warming?
The fight for the climate is a “question of life or death” immediately hammered Antonio Guterres, the head of the UN while the last eight years are the hottest on record.
In Egypt, promises no longer have their place. The 200 countries gathered must commit: “It should be mentioned that, for an effective implementation of pledges and commitments, we need a more effective and wider participation of all parties concerned, of non-state actors whose role is just as important as that of States, i.e. the private sector” highlighted Sameh Choukri, President of COP27.
If the projections for this year are confirmed, the eight years from 2015 to 2022 will be the hottest on record, alarmed Sunday theWorld Meteorological Organization (WMO) in a report that is more of a “chronicle of climate chaos”.
“As COP27 begins, our planet sends out a distress signal“, commented UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a video message broadcast in Sharm el-Sheikh.
This “chronicle of climate chaos” shows “so clearly that change is happening at catastrophic speed, devastating lives on all continents”, he added, calling for the response to be “ambitious and credible actions” during the two weeks of this climate conference in Egypt.
With an estimated average temperature 1.15°C warmer than in the pre-industrial era, the year 2022 is expected to rank “only” fifth or sixth among those warmest years, due to the unusual influence , for a third consecutive year, of the La Niña ocean phenomenon, which leads to a drop in temperatures.
“But this does not reverse the long-term trend; it’s only a matter of time before there’s a warmer new year“, insisted the WMO, a specialized agency of the UN.
Melting of glaciers
Proof of this trend, “the eight years from 2015 to 2022 will probably be the eight hottest years recorded”, estimated the Organization, which will publish its final assessment in 2023.
The average temperature over the decade 2013-2022 is estimated at 1.14°C above that of the pre-industrial era, against 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 target of +1.5°C has become the “keep alive” target.
“CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are so high that the 1.5°C target (…) is barely within the realm of possibility“, commented on Sunday the head of the OMM 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 for water supplies.“, he added.
Thus, the glaciers of the Alps recorded in 2022 a record loss of ice mass, with a reduction in thickness of 3 to 4 meters, “much more than during the previous record in 2003”.
And the news is no better on the side of rising sea levels, mainly linked to the melting of the ice caps.
The level of the oceans is also at a “record” in 2022, with a rise of 10 mm since January 2020, or 10% of the rise recorded since the start of satellite measurements almost 30 years ago. And the rate of elevation has doubled since 1993.
The planet has also been the victim this year of an avalanche of extreme events, from historic floods in Pakistan to repeated heat waves in Europe, including drought in the Horn of Africa.
“We know that some of these disasters, floods and heat in Pakistan, floods and cyclones in southern Africa, Hurricane Ian, extreme heat waves and drought in Europe would not have been so severe without climate change,” said Friederike Otto, a climatologist at Imperial College London.
“If ever there was a year to tear down and burn the blinders that prevent climate action, this is it.“, added Dave Reay, of the University of Edinburgh.