The State of the Climate 2021 report says that extreme weather events – the daily face of climate change – have taken a heavy toll on human lives, caused shocks to food and water security and resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses last year.
The report, which describes yet other clear signs that human activity is causing damage on a planetary scale – to our lands, oceans and atmosphere – also confirms that the past seven years have been the warmest recorded, with global temperature in 2021 reaching around 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels.
“It is just a matter of time before we see another warmest year on record. Our climate is changing before our eyes. The heat trapped by human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come,” warned WMO chief Petteri Taalas. “Sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification will continue for hundreds of years unless means to remove carbon from the atmosphere are invented.”
Calling the report “a dismal litany of humanity’s inability to tackle climate change,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that while time is running out to prevent the worst impacts of the crisis of climate change, there is a “lifeline” right in front of us.
“We need to end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources before we burn down the only home we have. The transformation of energy systems is within reach,” he stressed in a video message.
For the head of the UN, “without renewable energies, there is simply no future”.
Stressing that renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar are readily available and, in most cases, cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels, Guterres proposed five crucial actions to accelerate the transition. energy, which he called “the peace project of the 21st century”.