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'The Paris Agreement is barely within reach'

UN climate report: Last 8 years the hottest on record

Published on opening day of COP27 climate summit, dossier says rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993, average temperature 1.15 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial level

Firefighters spray water as they try to douse a fire near the village of Biguglia, Corsica island, France, as some hundreds of firefighters battle blazes fanned by high winds in more than a dozen zones in the Riviera region of southern France, on July 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Raphael Poletti, FILE)
Firefighters spray water as they try to douse a fire near the village of Biguglia, Corsica island, France, as some hundreds of firefighters battle blazes fanned by high winds in more than a dozen zones in the Riviera region of southern France, on July 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Raphael Poletti, FILE)

A UN report released to coincide with the COP27 climate summit on Sunday revealed that the past eight years were the hottest on record, leaving the climate goals set out in the 2015 Paris Climate Accords “barely within reach.”

Produced by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a body of the UN, the report said that the rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993, and that the global average temperature in 2022 is about 1.15°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.

According to the WMO, 2023 is only expected to bring a rise in the average temperature, with the chilling effects of the La Nina weather pattern set to recede at the end of 2022.

The Greenland ice sheet, located 3,200 meters above sea level, lost mass for the 26th consecutive year, and, in September, rain, rather than snow, was recorded on the sheet for the first time.

In the European alps, glacier melt was at record levels, with average thickness losses measured between three and four meters, “substantially more than in the previous record year [of] 2003,” the report said.

“The greater the warming, the worse the impacts,” WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas warned.

Sameh Shoukry, president of the COP27 climate summit, speaks at an opening session of the COP27 UN Climate Summit, November 6, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

“We have such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now that the lower 1.5°C of the Paris Agreement is barely within reach.”

“It’s already too late for many glaciers and the melting will continue for hundreds if not thousands of years, with major implications for water security,” Taalas said.

Taalas added that often “those least responsible for climate change suffer most,” but posited that this year, “even well-prepared societies” suffered from extreme weather events, a possible reference to Hurricane Ian, which ravaged the US state of Florida in September.

On the opening day of the COP27 UN Climate Summit, António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, told delegates, “Emissions are still growing at record levels… that means our planet is on course for reaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible and forever bake in catastrophic temperature rise.”

Guterres implored the global community to use the conference, which is taking place in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, as an opportunity to “rebuild trust and re-establish the ambition needed to avoid driving our planet over the climate cliff.”

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