GENEVA (AP) — With weather disasters costing $200 million a day and irreversible climate catastrophe, the world is “moving in the wrong direction,” the United Nations says in a new report bringing together the latest climate science change.
The World Meteorological Organization, in its latest stark warning about global warming, said weather-related disasters have increased fivefold in the past 50 years and are killing 115 a day on average – and the effects are set to worsen.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cited floods in Pakistan, heat waves in Europe, droughts in places like China, the Horn of Africa and the United States – and pointed the finger at fossil fuels.
“There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. It’s the price of humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels,” he said. “This year’s United in Science report shows that climate impacts are headed for uncharted disaster zones.”
“Yet every year we are doubling this addiction to fossil fuels, even though the symptoms are rapidly worsening,” he added.
The report, which draws on data compiled by various UN agencies and partners, cited a 48% chance that global warming compared to pre-industrial times will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) in the next five years. There is a 93% chance that one year in the next five will be record hot.
It comes amid fresh warnings from scientists last week that four climate “tipping points” are likely to be triggered if this temperature threshold – set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement – is exceeded.
Many governments are already trying to deal with the threat of more extreme weather from climate change, and data shows that deaths from natural disasters have fallen in recent years. However, the economic costs of climate-induced disasters are projected to rise sharply.
The UN report says such “loss and damage” can be limited by early action to prevent further warming and adapt to the temperature increases that are now inevitable. Questions about compensation for the damage suffered by poor nations as a result of emissions produced by rich countries will play a major role in the upcoming UN climate talks in Egypt this fall.
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