Ahead of next week’s climate conference in Scotland, 10 United Nations and international agency heads, including the World Meteorological Organization, are calling on governments to turn their carbon neutral commitments into climate action.
Scientists tracking the impact of human activity on the warming of the planet say the scientific case for urgent climate action is unequivocal. They note rising temperatures have led to increased sea levels and more frequent and intense extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, heat waves, and excess rainfall.
The U.N. and international agency heads have issued a united and urgent call to governments to prioritize climate action, particularly when it comes to water. They say accelerated action is urgently needed to address the water-related consequences of climate change.
World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Clare Nullis says the agency chiefs warn climate change is dramatically affecting the water cycle, making droughts and floods more extreme and frequent, and decreasing the natural water storage in ice and snow.
“Changing precipitation patterns are already impacting agriculture, food systems, and livelihoods are becoming increasingly vulnerable, as well as ecosystems, and biodiversity. Rising sea levels threaten communities, infrastructure, coastal environments and aquifers,” Nullis said.
Participants at next week’s so-called “make-or-break climate summit” are expected to commit themselves to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The aim is to stave off climate change by limiting global warming to one-point-five to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Nullis said scientists agree on the urgency to translate the commitments into action and to do more to accelerate carbon neutrality.
“The concentrations that are up there in the atmosphere now are at record levels. Even if we reach carbon neutrality tomorrow, the inertia in the climate system and especially in the ocean means that heat will carry on increasing for several decades even after that,” she said.
At the meeting, Nullis said the WMO, the U.N. Environment Program, and the U.N. Development Program will announce a new coalition fund to improve the collection of essential weather and climate data.
She said the facility will close the growing data gaps that impede the ability to forecast extreme weather events and, ultimately, protect the climate.