2016 ‘very likely’ hottest year on record: UN

Global warm­ing stokes more floods and ris­ing sea lev­els

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

The world is set to notch up a new heat record in 2016 af­ter a siz­zling 2015 as global warm­ing stokes more floods and ris­ing sea lev­els, the UN weather agency said yes­ter­day at cli­mate change talks over­shad­owed by Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion win. Pres­i­dent-elect Trump has called cli­mate change a hoax and a source in his tran­si­tion team says he is seek­ing quick ways to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agree­ment, which aims to shift the world econ­omy away from fos­sil fu­els towards re­new­able en­ergy.

The World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WMO) said this year would be the warm­est since records be­gan in the late 19th cen­tury, with av­er­age sur­face tem­per­a­tures 1.2 de­grees Cel­sius (2.2 Fahren­heit) above pre-in­dus­trial times. Six­teen of the 17 hottest years recorded have been in this cen­tury. “An­other year. An­other record,” WMO Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Pet­teri Taalas said in a state­ment in Mar­rakesh, Morocco, where al­most 200 na­tions are dis­cussing ways to slow cli­mate change.

The heat, with im­pacts such as melt­ing Green­land ice and dam­age to Aus­tralia’s Great Bar­rier Reef, was stoked by an El Nino weather event in the Pa­cific early in the year and by man­made green­house gases, mainly from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els. “The ex­tra heat from the pow­er­ful El Nino event has dis­ap­peared. The heat from global warm­ing will con­tinue,” he said. The WMO said it was “very likely” that 2016 would be the hottest, bar­ring a freak chill in com­ing weeks.

Paris deal

The Paris deal, backed by al­most 200 na­tions in­clud­ing the United States but re­jected by Trump, has an over­rid­ing goal of lim­it­ing the rise in tem­per­a­tures to “well be­low” 2C (3.6F) above pre-in­dus­trial times, ide­ally 1.5C (2.7F). Ear­lier on Mon­day a sci­en­tific re­port pro­jected that world car­bon diox­ide emis­sions were ex­pected to stay flat for the third year in a row in 2016 and that US emis­sions would fall by 1.7 per­cent in 2016, driven by de­clines in coal con­sump­tion.

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has made fight­ing cli­mate change a key pol­icy and the United States was the driv­ing force be­hind the de­sign of the Paris Agree­ment. “Be­cause of cli­mate change, the oc­cur­rence and im­pact of ex­treme events has risen,” Taalas said. “‘Once in a gen­er­a­tion’ heat waves and flood­ing are be­com­ing more reg­u­lar. Sea level rise has in­creased ex­po­sure to storm surges associated with trop­i­cal cy­clones,” he said.

The most dam­ag­ing weather event in 2016 was Hur­ri­cane Matthew, which killed more than 500 peo­ple in Haiti, it said. The Yangtze basin in China had its worst sum­mer floods since 1999, killing 310 peo­ple and caus­ing an es­ti­mated $14 bil­lion in dam­age. Record daily tem­per­a­tures were recorded from South Africa to Thai­land. Canada had its worst recorded wild­fire in May around Fort McMur­ray, Al­berta. Data from the UN refugee agency said 19.2 mil­lion peo­ple were dis­placed by weather, wa­ter, cli­mate and haz­ards such as earth­quakes in 2015, more than twice as many as for con­flict and vi­o­lence, it said. — Reuters

MAR­RAKECH: Hun­dreds protest against cli­mate change and urge world lead­ers to take ac­tion, in a march co­in­cid­ing with the Cli­mate Con­fer­ence, known as COP22, tak­ing place in Mar­rakech, Morocco. — AP

IN SPACE: NOAA/NASA im­age shows planet Earth. Car­bon emis­sions from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els have been nearly flat for three years in a rowa ‘great help’ but not enough to stave off dan­ger­ous global warm­ing, a re­port said on Novem­ber 14, 2016. — AFP

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