On World Meteorological Day, UN chief stresses need to mitigate climate change patterns

Aerial view of the dwindling ice on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. UN Photo/Mark Garten

23 March 2015 – With extreme weather and changing climatic patterns taking a heavier toll on the planet, mitigating and adapting to them remains “among the great tests of our time,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, as he stressed the need for timely, reliable information to further strengthen resilience.

“Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of these extremes and threatening water and food security in many parts of the world,” Mr. Ban said in his message for World Meteorological Day.

“In the last three decades, floods, storm surges, droughts and wildfires have taken a huge toll in lives and caused massive economic losses. The devastation caused by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and other parts of Oceania is just the latest example of how catastrophic weather extremes can be,” he added.

World Meteorological Day commemorates the coming into force on 23 March 1950 of the convention establishing the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This year’s theme for the Day, ‘Climate Knowledge for Climate Action,’ highlights both recent advances in climate science and the need for decisive measures to limit climate change.

Mr. Ban noted that over the last 12 months, thousands of lives have been saved around the world by improved weather forecasting, early warning systems and disaster readiness. The economic benefits of climate services such as seasonal outlooks have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Timely, reliable and accessible information for further decision-making and action remains critical and is the aim of the Global Framework for Climate Services, initiated by WMO to facilitate the use of climate information to reduce disaster risk, promote food and water security, and safeguard public health.

In conjunction with the Day, WMO released its report on the Status of the Climate in 2014, which provides details of weather extremes last year and the impacts of climate change. WMO has already said that 2014 was the hottest year on record, but only by a very small margin.

“The climate knowledge that has been built in the last decades is an invaluable resource and a prerequisite for decision-making and for climate action,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

“Multiple lines of evidence – from mounting temperatures to shrinking glaciers, from sea-level rise to weather extremes – give us high confidence that the climate is changing and that this is largely due to human activities, in particular the emissions of greenhouse gases that every year reach record high levels,” he added, warning that the “cost of inaction is high and will become even higher if we do not act immediately and resolutely.”

The Day is being marked with ceremonies and events, including at WMO headquarters in Geneva, Argentina and France, to showcase the contribution of National Meteorological Services to safety, well-being and sustainable development.

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