2020 was one of the three hottest years on record, marked by wildfires, droughts, floods and melting glaciers, a United Nations report said on Monday.
“We are on the verge of the abyss,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a press conference as he unveiled the State of the Global Climate 2020 report by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
“This is truly a pivotal year for humanity’s future. And this report shows we have no time to waste, climate disruption is here,” Guterres said, as he urged countries to “end our war on nature.”
Time is fast running out to tackle the climate crisis, the UN warned, with the COVID-19 pandemic having failed to put the brakes on “relentless” climate change.
The ‘State of the Global Climate’ report confirms its preliminary findings, including on land and ocean temperatures, and comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s climate summit on April 22-23 where Washington will seek to restore its credibility on climate change through fresh pledges.
Forty world leaders have been invited to attend Biden’s virtual talks aimed at galvanizing efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis.
The report showed the global average temperature in 2020 was about 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, ranking it somewhere in the top three hottest years alongside 2016 and 2019 despite cooling La Niña conditions.
A WMO spokeswoman said it was too close to make a call between them because of the margin of statistical error.
Among the indicators highlighted were record low Arctic sea ice extents in two months of 2020. Around 80 percent of the ocean experienced at least one marine heatwave last year.
(With input from agencies)