A new report from the United Nations (UN) has revealed that global mean temperatures for the past eight years have been the highest on record. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) published its State of the Global Climate 2022 Report on Friday, April 21, which focuses on key climate indicators such as greenhouse gases (GHGs), temperatures and sea level rise. Despite the cooling impact of the La Nina weather phenomenon for the past three years, the report outlines that GHG concentrations in the atmosphere continue to reach record levels, contributing to warming of the land and ocean, melting of ice sheets and glaciers, rising sea levels, and warming and acidifying of oceans.
According to the WMO, 2022 was the fifth or sixth warmest year on record, with the global mean temperature in 2022 being 1.15°C above the 1850–1900 average. Last year, record high annual temperatures were reported in Western Europe, with a number of countries, including Ireland, having their warmest year on record. On July 18, 2022, the mercury reached 33° at the Phoenix Park in Dublin, which was the highest temperature in Ireland since 1887.
The report also highlights that droughts, floods and heatwaves affected communities on every continent last year, costing many billions of dollars. “While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events,” said Prof. Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary-general. “For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage.”
Prof. Taalas also noted that around 100 counties currently do not have adequate weather services in place, and that investments are needed in early warning, hydrological and climate service capacities. The WMO is working on a new scheme for monitoring the sinks and sources of the main GHGs based on modelling and on ground-based and satellite measurements. “The scheme will enable better understanding of the uncertainties related to the strength of carbon sinks and sources associated with land use, as well as those related to the sources of methane,” Prof. Taalas said.
The WMO report was released ahead of Earth Day 2023, which takes place on Saturday, April 22. In advance of Earth Day 2023, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for accelerated climate action with deeper, faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°. “We have the tools, the knowledge, and the solutions. But we must pick up the pace,” he said.
The report serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for action on climate change. Governments, businesses and individuals must work together to reduce GHG emissions and limit global temperature rise. Failure to act now will have catastrophic consequences for our planet and future generations.