Apr 20, 2021 06:18 UTC
  • UN warns of climate 'abyss' as 2020 confirmed as one of 3 hottest years on record

The year 2020 was one of the three hottest years on record, marked by wildfires, droughts, floods and melting glaciers, a United Nations report said on Monday, prompting the UN secretary-general to say the world stands “on the verge of the abyss.”

In a "double blow" to millions hit by the extreme climate events, lockdown restrictions linked to the global coronavirus pandemic also delayed crucial assistance in some regions, said the report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The ‘State of the Global Climate’ report confirms its preliminary findings, including on land and ocean temperatures, and comes ahead of a U.S.-led summit on April 22-23 where Washington will seek to restore its credibility on climate change through fresh pledges.

“We are on the verge of the abyss... We are seeing record levels in tropical storms, in the melting of ice sheets or glaciers, in relation to drought, heatwaves, and wildfires,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Reuters.

The report showed the global average temperature in 2020 was about 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, ranking it somewhere in the top three hottest years alongside 2016 and 2019 despite cooling La Niña conditions.

A WMO spokeswoman said it was too close to make a call between them because of the margin of statistical error.

Among the indicators highlighted were record low Arctic sea ice extents in two months of 2020. Around 80 percent of the ocean experienced at least one marine heatwave last year.

MG