2017 among top 3 hottest years, with impacting extreme weather: UN report

Updated 2017-11-07 09:34:09 Xinhua

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Monday that 2017 would be one of the three hottest years on record, with many high-impact weather events and unabated long-term climate indicators.

As a result of a powerful El Nino, 2016 is likely to remain the warmest year on record, with 2017 and 2015 being second or third, and 2013 to 2017 set to be the warmest five-year period on record, according to the WMO's provisional statement on the state of the climate, which was released on Monday before the United Nations (UN) climate change conference in Bonn, Germany.

The average global temperature from January to September 2017 was nearly 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1981 to 2010 average, representing about 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era. That was translated into record warm days in parts of southern Europe, North Africa, east and southern Africa, and the Asian part of Russia this year.

Though 2016 and 2015 have seen an exceptionally strong El Nino that boosted temperatures, 2017, without an El Nino influence, is still set to be the warmest year on record, the report predicts.

"We have witnessed extraordinary weather...Many of these events...bear the tell-tale sign of climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas concentrations from human activities," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Extreme events have affected the food security of millions of people, especially the most vulnerable. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, agriculture accounted for 26 percent of all the damage and loss associated with medium to large-scale storms, floods and drought in developing countries.

Meanwhile, recent studies also show that the overall risk of heat-related illness or death has climbed steadily since 1980, with around 30 percent of the world's population now living in prolonged extreme heatwaves. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of vulnerable people exposed to heatwave events has increased by some 125 million.

In 2016, 23.5 million people were displaced during weather-related disasters, the majority of which were associated with floods or storms in the Asia-Pacific region. The latest International Monetary Fund statistics indicate that adverse consequences are concentrated in countries with relatively hot climates and which are home to close to 60 percent of current global population.

"These findings underline the rising risks to people, economies, and the very fabric of life on Earth if we fail to get on track with the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement," said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of UN Climate Change.

She has urged that the climate change conference in Bonn be the "launch pad towards the next, higher level of ambition by all nations and all sectors of society," to reduce risks for the future.

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