COVID-19 paused but did not slow the relentless advance of climate change. Record levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere commit the planet to dangerous future warming, according to a new report that links the latest findings from across the United Nations. Rising global temperatures are fuelling extreme weather throughout the world, impacting economies and societies. The average global temperature for the past five years was among the highest on record, and the scale of recent changes across the global climate system is unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years. Even with ambitious action to slow greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels will continue to rise and threaten low-lying islands and coastal populations throughout the world. The findings reinforce critical momentum behind climate action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
IPCC | Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis
Climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying. That is the key finding of the latest scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It finds changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. Many changes are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years. Some, such as continued sea-level rise, are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. The report points to strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to limit climate change. Benefits for air quality would come quickly, while global temperatures would take 20-30 years to stabilize. The report, issued by the IPCC’s Working Group I and approved by 195 member governments, is the first in a series leading up to the 2022 IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. It includes a closer look at the regional dimensions of climate change and builds on advances in attributing specific weather and climate events to climate change.
The State of the Global Climate 2020 finds the year was one of the three warmest on record, despite a cooling La Niña event. The global average temperature was about 1.2° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level. The six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record, with 2011-2020 the warmest decade on record. The report documents indicators of the climate system, including greenhouse gas concentrations, increasing land and ocean temperatures, sea level rise, melting ice and glacier retreat and extreme weather. It also highlights impacts on socioeconomic development, migration and displacement, food security and land and marine ecosystems.
The global slowdown from the COVID-19 pandemic has not curbed rising levels of greenhouse gases, said the World Meteorological Organization in releasing its latest WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. Carbon dioxide levels have pushed past another record threshold, after rising in 2019 at a rate faster than the average for the last 10 years.
Increasing temperatures and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns and more extreme weather are threatening human health and safety, food and water security and socio-economic development in Africa, according to the State of the Climate in Africa Report devoted exclusively to the continent. The report provides a snapshot of current and future climate trends and associated impacts on the economy and sensitive sectors like agriculture. It highlights lessons for climate action in Africa and identifies pathways for addressing critical gaps and challenges.
Between 1970 and 2019, 79% of disasters worldwide involved weather, water, and climate-related hazards. These disasters accounted for 56% of deaths and 75% of economic losses from disasters associated with natural hazards reported during that period. As climate change continues to threaten human lives, ecosystems and economies, risk information and early warning systems (EWS) are increasingly seen as key for reducing these impacts. This latest WMO report highlights progress made in EWS capacity – and identifies where and how governments can invest in effective EWS to strengthen countries’ resilience to multiple weather, water and climate-related hazards.
Climate change has not stopped for COVID19. United in Science 2020, a new multi-agency report from leading science organizations, highlights the increasing and irreversible impacts of climate change, which affects glaciers, oceans, nature, economies and human living conditions and is often felt through water-related hazards like drought or flooding. It also documents how COVID-19 has impeded our ability to monitor these changes through the global observing system.
The tell-tale physical signs of climate change, such as increasing land and ocean heat, accelerating sea level rise and melting ice, contributed to making 2019 the second warmest year on record according to a new report compiled by a network led by the World Meteorological Organization. The report documents the increasing impacts of weather and climate events on socio-economic development, human health, migration and displacement, food security and land and marine ecosystems.
The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization.
The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2018 , its 25th anniversary edition, highlights record sea level rise, as well as exceptionally high land and ocean temperatures over the past four years. This warming trend has lasted since the start of this century and is expected to continue.
Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.
The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The report found that levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, according to the World Meteorological Organization. There is no sign of a reversal in this trend, which is driving long-term climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and more extreme weather.
The Synthesis Report (SYR) of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) provides an overview of the state of knowledge concerning the science of climate change. It shows that human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.
WMO | Climate Indicators and Sustainable Development: Demonstrating the Interconnections
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 largely depends on addressing human-induced climate change. A new report demonstrates connections between global climate and the goals. It champions the need for greater international collaboration to both achieve the SDGs and limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. A story map highlights seven climate indicators with impacts across the global goals: carbon dioxide concentration, temperature, ocean acidification, ocean heat content, sea-ice extent, glacier mass balance and sea-level rise. The report examines the implications of the latest data and scientific research on the state of the global climate for sustainable development, highlighting how the climate is already changing in ways that may impede progress on the SDGs.
UNFCCC | Nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement
A synthesis of nationally determined contributions required under the Paris Agreement indicates that while there is a clear trend in reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time, nations must urgently redouble climate efforts to prevent global temperature from crossing a dangerous threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report includes information from all 191 Parties to the Paris Agreement based on their latest NDCs, including 86 updated or new NDCs submitted by 113 Parties. The new or updated NDCs cover about 49 per cent of global emissions. For the 113 Parties, greenhouse gas emissions are projected to decrease by 12% in 2030 compared to 2010. This is an important step towards the 45 per cent reduction in 2030 required to keep to the 1.5 degree goal. NDCs of all 191 Parties, however, imply a sizable 16 per cent increase in global emissions in 2030. Without immediate action, this could lead to a temperature rise of about 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
WMO | Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes
A comprehensive new report finds that a disaster related to a weather, climate or water hazard occurred every day on average over the past 50 years, killing 115 people and causing $202 million in losses each day. The number of disasters increased by five times; economic losses rose sevenfold. But improved early warnings and disaster management reduced deaths by almost threefold. Cumulatively, more than 11,000 disasters were reported, with just over 2 million deaths and $3.64 trillion in losses. Weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50 per cent of these disasters and nearly half of deaths, 91 per cent of which occurred in developing countries. Of the top 10 disasters, the largest human losses came from droughts, storms, floods and extreme temperature. Storms and floods generated the greatest economic costs. Three storms in 2017 alone accounted for a third of total economic losses from the top 10 disasters over the 50-year period.
UNICEF | The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis
At least 1 billion children live in 33 countries that are at extremely high risk from multiple climate and environmental shocks, according to the new Children’s Climate Risk Index. It offers the first comprehensive analysis of climate risk from a child’s perspective. The index ranks countries based on children’s exposure to shocks such as cyclones and heatwaves. It also considers children's vulnerability from gaps in essential services such as for education and health care. While nearly every child in the world is at risk from at least one climate or environmental hazard, the worst affected countries face multiple and often overlapping shocks that threaten to erode development progress and deepen child deprivation.
Each year, the world could save an estimated 23,000 lives and gain $162 billion in benefits from improving weather forecasts, early warning systems and climate information, known as hydromet. That’s the conclusion of the first Hydromet Gap Report. It shows how far the world has to go to tap the benefits of effective weather and climate services, but also highlights how investments in multi-hazard early warning systems create benefits worth at least 10 times their costs. These are vital to build resilience to extreme weather, yet only 40 percent of countries currently have effective warning systems in place. Large gaps remain in vital data upon which these services depend, particularly in the least developed countries and small island developing States.
Accelerating energy transitions in line with a livable climate could double the number of energy jobs, up to 122 million by 2050, according to a new report. It also finds a substantial boost to the global economy of 2.4 per cent over the expected growth of current plans within the next decade. The report predicts that renewables-based energy systems will instigate profound changes that will reverberate across economies and societies. Sharp adjustments in capital flows and a reorientation of investments are necessary to align energy with a positive economic and environmental trajectory. Forward-looking policies can accelerate transition, mitigate uncertainties, and ensure maximum benefits of energy transition. The annual investment of USD 4.4 trillion needed on average is high but feasible.
Drought affects millions of people, especially the most vulnerable. The impacts reach across societies, ecosystems and economies. With climate change increasing temperatures and disrupting rainfall, drought frequency, severity and duration are on the rise many regions. This requires urgent action to better manage risks and reduce devastating tolls on human lives and livelihoods. The Special Report on Drought 2021 empha¬sizes solutions in managing drought risks and calls for a sharper focus on prevention by addressing root drivers of drought and socioecological vulnerability. It stresses that risk prevention and mitigation have a far lower cost than reaction and response, and offers recommendations on how to achieve drought resilience.
2020 could have been a gamechanger. With economies worldwide ravaged by COVID-19, primary energy demand fell by 4 per cent. Yet G20 countries, the planet’s biggest polluters, barely met or even missed their unambitious renewable energy targets. The Renewables 2021 Global Status Report shows that the world is nowhere near the necessary paradigm shift towards a clean, healthier and more equitable energy future, even as the benefits of renewables are indisputable. In many regions, it is now cheaper to build new wind or solar PV plants than to operate existing coal-fired power plants. The report suggests accelerating the uptake of renewable energy by making it a key performance indicator for every economic activity, budget and public purchase, and adopting clear targets and plans to shift to renewable energy and end fossil fuel use.
CDB and the UN Global Compact | Taking the Temperature
New research finds that the G7 stock indexes are not currently on a 2°C pathway, much less the 1.5°C one that is so urgently needed. Fossil fuels are a key contributor to the emissions of all seven. Taking the Temperature: Assessing and scaling-up climate ambition in the G7 business sector also finds that indexes with a higher share of emissions covered by science-based targets for reductions result in lower overall temperature ratings. Companies with such targets are already cutting emissions at scale, and despite the findings, momentum for climate action in G7 countries is growing. Overall, 2020 was a milestone year for climate commitments, with the annual rate of adoption of science-based targets doubling compared to 2015-2019. The report maps four key levers that governments, investors and businesses can use to unlock breakthrough climate action through such targets.
IEA and others | Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report
More people have access to electricity than ever before but unless efforts are scaled up significantly in countries with the largest deficits, the world will still fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. While more than 1 billion people gained access to electricity globally over the last decade, COVID-19’s financial impact has made basic electricity services unaffordable for 30 million more people, the majority in Africa. Under current and planned policies, and given fallout from the pandemic, an estimated 660 million people would still lack access in 2030. The report examines how to bridge the gaps, such as by significantly scaling up renewable energy. It tracks international public financial flows to developing countries, finding these reached $14 billion for clean and renewable energy in 2018. But only 20 percent went to the least-developed countries, which are furthest from achieving SDG energy targets.
Climate and Clean Air Coalition and UNEP | Global Methane Assessment
The 2021 Global Methane Assessment shows that human-caused methane emissions can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, avoiding nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045. Because methane is a key ingredient in ground-level ozone (smog), a powerful climate forcer and dangerous air pollutant, a 45 per cent reduction would prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion hours of lost labour from extreme heat and 25 million tonnes of crop losses annually. Most human-caused methane emissions come from three sectors: fossil fuels, waste and agriculture. The assessment identifies readily available solutions to reduce methane emissions. Half are not only low in cost, but would even make money, such as through reducing leaks in the oil and gas industry.
REN21 | Renewables in Cities 2021 Global Status Report
Cities around the world are accelerating uptake of renewable energy, adopting targets and policies to spur local consumption and generation. This makes a critical contribution to climate action, since cities shelter more than half the global population and use three-quarters of global final energy consumption. REN21’s Renewables in Cities Global Status Report surveys the status and prospects of renewable energy in cities, detailing policies, markets, investments and citizen actions. It puts particular focus on renewables in public, residential and commercial buildings as well as public and private transport. Covering urban areas from towns to mega-cities, the report builds on more than 330 data contributors, and is endorsed by major renewable energy players and city networks.
One year into the pandemic, recovery spending has fallen fall short of national commitments to shift to more sustainable investments. A new report finds only 18 per cent of announced recovery spending in 50 leading economies can be considered “green”. That totals about $368 billion of $14.4 trillion in COVID-induced spending on rescue and recovery in 2020. The report calls for governments to invest more sustainably, emphasizing that green recovery can bring stronger economic growth, while helping to meet global environmental targets and addressing structural inequality. To keep decades of progress against poverty from unwinding, low-income countries will require substantial concessional finance from international partners.
People waste a substantial share of food, which is associated with up to 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Until now, the true scale of food waste and its impacts have not been well understood. Efforts to reduce it have been minimal, despite a global Sustainable Development Goal commitment to halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels. The Food Waste Index Report generates a new estimate of global food waste, and offers a methodology for countries to measure the problem and track national progress on reducing it.
The Initial NDC Synthesis Report shows nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021. That will be the only way to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise ideally by no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report looks at 75 new or updated action plans – known as NDCs – covering around 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Together, they would cut emissions by less than 1 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has indicated that emissions should be around 45 per cent lower.
From Ambition to Impact: How companies are reducing emissions at scale with science-based targets is the first study to look at how setting science-based targets correlates with actually reducing corporate emissions. The study surveyed 338 companies with such targets, finding they have slashed combined emissions by 25 per cent since 2015. Annual emissions declined at a rate exceeding the one required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Further, 2020 saw a milestone: the doubling of science-based climate commitments.
UN Environment | Global Climate Litigation Report: 2020 Status Review
The report provides an overview of the current state of climate change litigation globally, finding a rapid increase around the world. In 2017, 884 cases were brought in 24 countries. By July 2020, the number of cases had nearly doubled with at least 1,550 filed in 38 countries. The report shows how climate litigation is compelling governments and corporate actors to purse more ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation goals. It looks at the role of fundamental human rights connected to a safe climate, and outlines how cases are forcing greater climate disclosures and ending “corporate greenwashing”.
The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020 looks at progress in planning for, financing and implementing adaptation, with a focus on nature-based solutions. It finds some advances in planning, but also huge gaps in finance for developing countries. Implementation of adaptation projects lags behind, with many not yet delivering real protection against climate impacts such as droughts, floods and sea-level rise. The report calls for closing the gaps fast, and prioritizing nature-based solutions, or locally appropriate actions offering benefits to people and nature.
Go green with pandemic recovery packages. That’s the message of the 2020 Emissions Gap Report. It predicts that green recovery could shave emissions by 25 per cent by 2030, bringing the world closer to Paris Agreement goals to limit global warming. Despite a recent dip in emissions from lockdowns and slowing economies, temperatures are still rising at a record clip.
The world must cut fossil fuel production by 6 per cent per year to avoid the worst of global warming. Instead, countries are projecting an average annual increase of 2 per cent. Those are among the sobering findings of the latest Production Gap Report, issued by leading research organizations and the United Nations. The report urges making COVID-19 recovery a turning point, where countries should steer investments into changing course to avoid “locking in” dependence on polluting coal, oil and gas.
September’s Climate Action Summit delivered important new actions, a surge in climate momentum, and a clear destination: 45% emissions cuts by 2030 on the way to a carbon neutral world by 2050. The Secretary-General’s report on the outcomes of the Summit highlights the way forward in 2020, and outlines ten priority areas of action.
As the world strives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change, it is crucial to track progress towards globally agreed climate goals. For a decade, UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report has compared where greenhouse gas emissions are heading against where they need to be, and highlighted the best ways to close the gap.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been working together since 2014 to support countries in developing their national climate plans --Nationally Determined Contributions for the Paris Agreement or NDCs. This report is the most detailed review yet of momentum since the Paris Agreement and is designed to both inspire and inform the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September.
IPCC | Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (2019)
The IPCC Special Report highlights the urgency of prioritizing timely, ambitious and coordinated action to address unprecedented and enduring changes in the ocean and cryosphere. Without a radical change in human behavior, hundreds of millions of people could suffer from rising sea levels, frequent natural disasters and food shortages, it warns.
The Special Report provides new evidence for the benefits of limiting global warming to the lowest possible level – in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. It also finds that strongly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting and restoring ecosystems, and carefully managing the use of natural resources would make it possible to preserve the ocean and cryosphere.
The report “Climate Action and Support Trends” was prepared as UN Climate Change input to the UN Climate Action Summit, and it puts a spotlight on the progress made over the past 25 years since the inception of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This can help in scaling up further action, as governments prepare to submit the next round of national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), by 2020.
Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. At the same time, keeping global warming to well below 2ºC can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states in its latest report.
The report provides key scientific input into forthcoming climate and environment negotiations, such as the Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) in New Delhi, India in September and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Santiago, Chile, in December.
The flagship report from UN Environment is the definitive assessment of the 'emissions gap' – the gap between anticipated emission levels in 2030, compared to levels consistent with a 2°C / 1.5°C target. It found that global emissions are on the rise as national commitments to combat climate change come up short. But surging momentum from the private sector and untapped potential from innovation and green-financing offer pathways to bridge the emissions gap.
The next 2-3 years are a critical window when many of the policy and investment decisions that shape the next 10-15 years will be taken. The New Climate Economy report found that leaders are already seizing the exciting economic and market opportunities of the new growth approach, while the laggards are not only missing out on these opportunities but are also putting us all at greater risk. More than US$26 trillion and a more sustainable planet are on offer, if everyone gets on board.
A new World Bank report estimates that the collapse of select ecosystem services provided by nature – such as wild pollination, provision of food from marine fisheries and timber from native forests – could result in a decline in global gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.7 trillion annually by 2030. The report underscores the strong reliance of economies on nature, particularly in low-income countries. It highlights that sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia would suffer the greatest GDP contractions at 9.7 per cent and 6.5 per cent annually, respectively. This is due to a reliance on pollinated crops and, in sub-Saharan Africa, on forest products, as well as a limited ability to switch to other production and consumption options that would be less affected.
Unprecedented changes in climate and biodiversity, driven by human activities, have combined and increasingly threaten nature, human lives, livelihoods and well-being around the world. Biodiversity loss and climate change are both driven by human economic activities and mutually reinforce each other. A report by 50 of the world’s leading biodiversity and climate experts summarizes findings from the first-ever collaboration between the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Biodiversity and Climate Change finds that previous policies have largely tackled biodiversity loss and climate change independently of each other, but neither will be successfully resolved unless both are tackled together. Doing so while also considering social impacts offers opportunities to maximize benefits and meet global development goals.
Making Peace with Nature lays out the gravity of the Earth’s triple environmental emergencies – climate, biodiversity loss and pollution – through a unique synthesis of findings from major global assessments. It flags interlinkages between environmental and development challenges and describes the roles of all parts of society in the transformations needed for a sustainable future. Advances in science and bold policymaking can open pathways towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and a carbon neutral world by 2050, while bending the curve on biodiversity loss and curbing pollution and waste. Taking that path means innovation and investment only in activities that protect both people and nature; COVID-19 recovery plans are an unmissable opportunity to do so.
CBD | The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 Report (2020)
Despite encouraging progress in several areas, the natural world is suffering badly and getting worse. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO-5) calls for a shift away from “business as usual” across a range of human activities. The report outlines eight transitions that recognize the value of biodiversity, the need to restore the ecosystems on which all human activity de-pends, and the urgency of reducing the negative impacts of such activity. It also shows that governments will need to scale up national ambitions in support of the new Global Biodiversity Framework and ensure that all necessary resources are mobilized, and the enabling environment strengthened.
UN Environment’s sixth Global Environment Outlook (2019) calls on decision makers to take immediate action to address pressing environmental issues to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as other Internationally Agreed Environment Goals, such as the Paris Agreement.
By bringing together a community of hundreds of scientists, peer reviewers and collaborating institutions and partners, the GEO reports build on sound scientific knowledge to provide governments, local authorities, businesses and individual citizens with the information needed to guide societies to a truly sustainable world by 2050.
IEA and others | Financing Clean Energy Transitions
Our energy and climate future increasingly hinges on decisions made in emerging market and developing economies, which face the challenge of meeting the aspirations of their citizens while avoiding high-carbon pathways. These economies are set to account for the largest emissions growth in coming decades unless sufficient action is taken to transform their energy systems. Yet efforts to support clean energy in them are faltering. The COVID-19 pandemic has stemmed the flow of new investments and exacerbated imbalances in access to capital. Countries will miss an opportunity to “build back better” unless the flow of new clean energy projects increases dramatically. Financing Clean Energy Transitions in Emerging and Developing Economies analyses the outlook for investment, assesses key issues in attracting finance, and provides advice on how policy reforms and financial mechanisms can mobilize and align private finance.
A new report outlines how 38 major banks from six continents are putting their portfolios and business practices behind the Collective Commitment to Climate Action. The initiative mobilizes banks to join the transition to a net-zero economy. Members are applying climate science and adopting policies to exclude financing activities that worsen global warming.
Delivering on the $100 Billion Climate Finance Commitment and Transforming Climate Finance
Meeting the pledge by developed countries to mobilize at least US$100 billion a year to support developing countries in mitigating and adapting to climate change, lagging even before the COVID-19 pandemic, requires urgent action, according to a new report by independent experts released today by the United Nations.
The United Nations has released its latest annual stocktaking on its environmental impact. Greening the Blue 2020 finds a downward trend in emissions for nearly 60 UN system entities and 310,000 staff members. It also highlights advances in environmental management.