World

2010s set to be warmest decade in history: UN

MADRID: This decade is set to be the hottest in history, the United Nations said yesterday in an annual assessment of the ways in which climate change is outpacing humanity's ability to adapt to it.

The World Meterological Organisation (WMO) said global temperatures so far this year were 1.1 deg C above the pre-industrial average, putting this year on course to be in the top three warmest years ever recorded.

Man-made emissions from burning fossil fuels, building infrastructure, growing crops and transporting goods mean this year is set to break the record for atmospheric carbon concentrations, locking in further warming, the WMO said.

Oceans, which absorb 90 percent of the excess heat produced by greenhouse gases, are now at their highest recorded temperatures.

The world's seas are now a quarter more acidic than 150 years ago, threatening vital marine ecosystems upon which billions of people rely for food and jobs.

In October, the global mean sea level reached its highest on record, fuelled by the 329 billion tonnes of ice lost from the Greenland ice sheet.

22 MILLION DISPLACED

Each of the last four decades has been hotter than the last.

And far from climate change being a phenomenon for future generations to confront, the effects of humanity's insatiable consumption means millions are already counting the damage.

The report said more than 10 million people were internally displaced in the first half of this year - seven million directly due to extreme weather events such as storms, flooding and drought.

By the end of the year, the WMO said new displacements could reach 22 million.

"Once again in 2019 weather and climate related risks hit hard," said Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

"Heatwaves and floods which used to be 'once in a century' events are becoming more regular occurrences."

At just 1 deg C hotter than pre-industrial times, this year has already seen deadly heatwaves in Europe, Australia and Japan, superstorms devastate south-east Africa, and wildfires rage out of control in Australia and California.

Nations are currently in crucial talks in Madrid aimed at finalising rules for the 2015 Paris climate accord, which enjoins countries to work to limit global temperature rises to "well below" 2 deg C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year outlined how vital it was for mankind to aim for a safer cap of 1.5 deg C. - AFP

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