According to the annual report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), climate change continued to advance at a tremendous and impactful clip in 2022.
The WMO says droughts, floods and heatwaves affected communities on every continent and cost many billions of dollars. Antarctic sea ice fell to its lowest extent on record, and there was record-setting melting of some European glaciers.
“The State of the Global Climate 2022 shows the planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases,” says the WMO. “For global temperature, the years 2015–2022 were the eight warmest on record despite the cooling impact of a La Niña event for the past three years.”
The WMO says melting of glaciers and sea level rise will likely continue for some considerable time, likely to be thousands of years.
“While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events,” says WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas. “For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record-breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage.”
The new WMO report is accompanied by a story map, which provides information for policy-makers on how the climate change indicators are playing out. The map shows how improved technology makes the transition to renewable energy cheaper and more accessible.
In addition to climate indicators, the report focuses on impacts. One of these is that rising undernourishment has been exacerbated by the compounded effects of hydrometeorological hazards and COVID-19, as well as of protracted conflicts and violence.
The report also puts a spotlight on ecosystems and the environment, and shows how climate change is affecting recurring events in nature, such as when trees blossom, or birds migrate.
The WMO State of the Global Climate report was released ahead of Earth Day 2023. Its key findings echo the message of UN Secretary-General António Guterres for Earth Day.
“We have the tools, the knowledge, and the solutions,” Guterres says. “But we must pick up the pace. We need accelerated climate action, with deeper, faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. We also need massively scaled-up investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities who have done the least to cause the crisis.”