According to a multi-agency report coordinated by the WMO, at the half-time point of the 2030 Agenda, the science is clear – the planet is far from meeting its climate goals. This undermines global efforts to tackle hunger, poverty and ill-health, improve access to clean water and energy and many other aspects of sustainable development.
Only 15% of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are on track, says the United in Science report, which makes a systematic examination of the impact of climate change and extreme weather on those goals. It illustrates how weather, climate and water-related sciences can advance aims such as food and water security, clean energy, better health, sustainable oceans and resilient cities. The annual report combines input and expertise from 18 organizations.
“2023 has shown all too clearly that climate change is here,” said UN secretary-general António Guterres. “Record temperatures are scorching the land and heating the sea, as extreme weather causes havoc around the globe. While we know this is just the beginning, the global response is falling far short. Meanwhile, halfway to the 2030 deadline for the SDGs, the world is woefully off-track.
“Science is central to solutions. It is widely understood that weather, climate and water-related sciences provide the underpinnings for climate action. But it is less recognized how these sciences can supercharge progress on the SDGs across the board.”
The report shows, for example, how weather predictions help boost food production and move closer to zero hunger. Integrating epidemiology and climate information helps understand and anticipate diseases sensitive to climate. And early-warning systems help to reduce poverty by giving people the chance to prepare and limit the impact.
Between 1970 and 2021 there were nearly 12,000 reported disasters from weather, climate and water extremes, causing over two million deaths and US$4.3tn in economic losses. Over 90% of those reported deaths and 60% of economic losses occurred in developing economies, undermining sustainable development.
Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by more extreme weather. The chance of the annual mean global near-surface temperature temporarily exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for at least one of the next five years is 66% and is increasing with time.
So far there has been very limited progress in reducing the emissions gap for 2030. Fossil fuel CO2 emissions increased 1% globally in 2022 compared with 2021 and preliminary estimates from January-June 2023 show a further 0.3% rise.
To get on track to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to well below 2°C, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 30% by 2030; to keep it below the preferred goal of 1.5°C, they need to be reduced by 45% – in both cases, CO2 emissions need to be close to net zero by 2050. This will require large-scale, rapid and systemic transformations.
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