The World Meteorological Organization has listed 2017 among the three hottest years on record.
In the WMO’s Statement on the State of the Climate released at the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Germany, scientists have said that 2016 remains the hottest year on record due to the strong El Niño effect. It is followed by 2017 and 2015, and the five-year period from 2013 to 2017 is set to be the warmest on record.
In 2017, the average global temperature from January to September has increased by approximately 1.1°C compared to the average temperature of the pre-industrial era.
“Long-term indicators of climate change such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, sea level rise, and ocean acidification continue unabated. Arctic sea ice coverage remains below average and previously stable Antarctic sea ice extent was at or near a record low,” according to the WMO statement.
The statement is based on information submitted by a wide range of UN agencies on human, socio-economic, and environmental impacts of climate change. The purpose of the recent conference was to work towards a more comprehensive UN-wide policy brief for decision makers on the interplay between weather, climate, and water and the related UN global goals.
Speaking on the occasion, Petteri Taalas, the WMO secretary-general, said, “The past three years have been the hottest years on record. This is part of a long term warming trend. We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people, and a relentless drought in East Africa.”
The UN’s findings indicate that countries to be impacted the most from increased average temperatures and intense heat waves are home to nearly 60 percent of global population.
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The extreme weather affects food security of millions of people, especially the most vulnerable. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has found that in developing countries, agriculture (crops, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture, and forestry) accounts for 26 percent of all the damage and loss associated with medium to large-scale storms, floods, and drought.
The risk of heat-related illness or death has also been steadily increasing since 1980 and 30 percent of the world’s population now experiences extreme heat waves for at least some days every year. The number of vulnerable population has increased by 125 million since 2000.
As many as 23.5 million people have been displaced in 2016 alone due to weather-related disasters such as floods and storms. Most of these internal displacements have been reported from the Asia-Pacific region.
“These findings underline the rising risks to people, economies, and the very fabric of life on Earth if we fail to get on track with the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement,” said Patricia Espinosa, the UN executive secretary for climate change.