Extreme weather events ‘are the new normal’: Last seven years were hottest on record… and experts warn that sea levels are rising at increasing rate
- Meteorological experts said 2021 could be the fifth hottest year since 1850
- Average world temperature from 2002 to 2021 was 1.01C above pre-industrial levels
- Sea levels have risen from an average of 2.1mm a year in 1993-2000 to 4.4mm between 2013-2021
The past seven years have been the hottest on record – and the rate at which sea levels are rising is accelerating, UN experts warn.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said 2021 was likely to be the fifth, sixth or seventh hottest in records dating to 1850.
The average global temperature from 2002 to 2021 was 1.01C above pre-industrial levels, the scientists said, while 2021 itself has averaged 1.09C higher.
In its State of the Climate report, the WMO said sea level rise has increased from an average of 2.1mm a year between 1993-2000 to 4.4mm between 2013-2021, mostly due to the faster loss of ice from glaciers and ice sheets.
People enjoy the hot weather on Brighton beach on July 18, the warmest day of the year with temperatures soaring above 31C across England and Wales
Secretary general Petteri Taalas said extreme events were ‘the new normal’, with mounting evidence of human-induced climate change.
At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, temperatures by the end of the century would be far in excess of the Paris goals, he said.
‘Cop26 is a make-or-break opportunity to put us back on track.’
UK chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance added his voice to calls for action, warning: ‘The commitment of leaders to implement changes to limit warming to 1.5C at Cop26 will be essential to protect all of us and the planet.
He added: ‘This report hammers home the message that climate change is real and present: the seas are rising, glaciers are melting, and floods and wildfires are more frequent.
‘Across the world, these changes are already affecting our transport, healthcare and food systems.’
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres called for the Cop26 talks, where leaders are under pressure to keep the 1.5C temperature limit within reach with more action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, to be a ‘turning point for people and planet’.
Communities and natural systems around the world were being devastated, he warned, as he urged leaders to act.
‘The door is open; the solutions are there. Cop26 must be a turning point. We must act now – with ambition and solidarity – to safeguard our future and save humanity,’ he said.
Professor Stephen Belcher, Met Office chief scientist, said the global temperature in 2021 was higher than average, despite the slight, short-term natural cooling cycle associated with La Nina.
‘This year’s provisional figure shows that the temperature trend remains upward.
‘The fact that the 20-year average has reached more than 1.0C above pre-industrial levels will focus the minds of delegates at Cop26 aspiring to keep global temperature rise to within the limits agreed in Paris six years ago,’ he said.