Innocent Ruwende in Bonn, Germany
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has warned that 2017 will be one of the three hottest years on record, with many high-impact events including catastrophic hurricanes and floods, debilitating heat waves and drought. In a statement released on the opening day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said the average global temperature from January to September 2017 was approximately 1,1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era.
“As a result of a powerful El Niño, 2016 is likely to remain the warmest year on record, with 2017 and 2015 being second and/or third. 2013-2017 is set to be the warmest five-year period on record. Long-term indicators of climate change such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, sea level rise and ocean acidification continue unabated. Arctic sea ice coverage remains below average and previously stable Antarctic sea ice extent was at or near a record low. The past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records,” said WMO.
“This is part of a long-term warming trend. We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa.”
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of UN Climate Change, which is hosting the Bonn conference, said: “These findings underline the rising risks to people, economies and the very fabric of life on Earth if we fail to get on track with the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
“There is unprecedented and very welcome momentum among governments, but also cities, states, territories, regions, business and civil society. Bonn 2017 needs to be the launch pad towards the next, higher level of ambition by all nations and all sectors of society as we look to de-risk the future and maximise the opportunities from a fresh, forward-looking and sustainable development path.”
Zimbabwe Climate Change Management director Mr Washington Zhakata said climate change was the unpredictable ingredient that, when added to existing social, economic and political tensions, has the potential to ignite violence and conflict with disastrous consequences.
“Climate change adaptation is an existential threat to our civilisation in the longer term. In the short term, it carries all sorts of risks as well and it requires a human response on a scale that has never been achieved before.
“Our fiscus should reflect the levels of appreciation of the climate change threat before the country accesses multilateral funds provided under the Green Climate Fund. The country has successfully applied for the Green Climate Readiness Funds to strengthen institutional framework for hosting the funds,” he said.
Three hundred thousand dollars has been approved for Zimbabwe. Changing weather patterns — like the hurricanes that devastated parts of the US this year — prove richer nations are not immune from climate change. Although climate change undoubtedly poses an existential threat to our world, it is not too late to take decisive action.
“COP 23 should deliver tangible results towards strengthening climate resilience of the developing world.”