This report has been compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) under the direction of the United Nations Secretary-General to bring together the latest climate science related updates from a group of key global partner organizations – WMO, Global Carbon Project (GCP), UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Met Office. The content of each chapter is attributable to each respective organization.
Foreword by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
|António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations|
This has been an unprecedented year for people and planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives worldwide. At the same time, the heating of our planet and climate disruption has continued apace. Record heat, ice loss, wildfires, floods and droughts continue to worsen, affecting communities, nations and economies around the world. Furthermore, due to the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the past century, the planet is already locked into future significant heating.
The solution to slowing down the rate of global temperature rise and keeping it below 1.5°C is for nations to dramatically cut emissions, with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. While emissions fell during the peak of the pandemic confinement measures, they have already mostly recovered to within 5 per cent of the same period in 2019 and are likely to increase further. This report stresses that short-term lockdowns are no substitute for the sustained climate action that is needed to enable us to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Never before has it been so clear that we need long term, inclusive, clean transitions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development. We must turn the recovery from the pandemic into a real opportunity to build a better future.
In order to do that, governments need consistent and solid science, backed by the strong collaboration of scientific institutions and academia, to underpin policy decisions that can tackle the greatest challenges of our time.
This report by the United Nations and global scientific partner organizations, provides an update one year from the first United in Science report, which was launched to inform the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019.
United in Science 2020 presents a unified assessment of the state of our Earth system, detailing how emissions have evolved in 2020, and providing projections for the critical years ahead. The report further addresses key thematic issues on the front lines of climate change, such as water, oceans and the cryosphere and highlights the vulnerability of land-based, marine and air observing systems which are essential to underpin our understanding of climate science.
We need science, solidarity and solutions to tackle both the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. I urge leaders to heed the facts contained in this report, unite behind the science and take urgent climate action to set a path towards a safer, more sustainable future for all.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Foreword by Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization
|Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization|
2020 has been a remarkable year in many ways. Not least of course because of the global pandemic, impacting lives and livelihoods across the planet like never before. This year has also been remarkable in terms or our climate, continuing the trend we have seen in recent decades.
Greenhouse gas concentrations - which are already at their highest levels in 3 million years - have continue to rise, reaching new record highs this year. Meanwhile, large swathes of Siberia have seen a prolonged and remarkable heatwave during the first half of 2020, which would have been almost impossible without anthropogenic climate change. And now 2016–2020 is set to be the warmest five year period on record. This report shows that whilst many aspects of our lives have been disrupted in 2020, climate change has continued unabated.
Despite the challenges that 2020 has brought, the scientific commuity have continued their important work at pace. Collaborating in new and innovative ways with an important mission in mind, to provide a robust, authoritative scientific evidence base for decision makers around the world.
United in Science 2020 delivers on this mission, presenting the very latest scientific data and findings related to climate change, relevant to this unprecedented year. This report is an example of the international scientific community’s commitment to strategic collaboration in order to advance the use of scientific evidence in global policy, discourse and action.
I would like to thank the many expert teams from our scientific partners in creating this report – Global Carbon Project, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UNESCO-IOC, UN Environment Programme and the Met Office. Thanks to their excellent collaboration, the climate science community are able to unite to provide policymakers all over the world with the latest essential information in these unprecedented times.
Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization