The United Nations has released a new report, where it has highlighted the alarming surge in climate change over the past decade. With the ongoing COP28, at Expo City in Dubai, the report acts as a wake-up call for the nation states and global leaders.
According to the report, the rate of climate change surged alarmingly between 2011-2020, which was the warmest decade on record. Continued rising concentrations of greenhouse gases fuelled record land and ocean temperatures and turbo-charged a dramatic acceleration in ice melt and sea level rise.
“The Antarctic continental ice sheet lost nearly 75% more ice between 2011-2020 than it did in 2001-2010 – an ominous development for future sea level rise which will jeopardise the existence of low-lying coastal regions and states,” as per the UN report.
Between 2011 and 2020, the Earth experienced its warmest decade on record, surpassing historical averages for both land and ocean temperatures by a significant margin.
According to the report, 2016 stood out as one of the warmest years due to a powerful El Niño event, alongside 2020. The most significant temperature deviations of the decade, exceeding 2 °C above the 1981-2010 average, were notably observed in the Arctic region.
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The report also highlighted that throughout the decade, the atmospheric concentrations of the three primary greenhouse gases consistently rose. And the rates of both ocean warming and acidification are on the rise, showing an increasing trend.
“Around 90% of the accumulated heat in the Earth system is stored in the ocean. Ocean warming rates show a particularly strong increase in the past two decades,” states the report.
Apart from acidification of the oceans, marine heatwaves are also becoming more frequent and intense. And global mean sea level rise is accelerating, largely because of ocean warming and the loss of land ice mass.
The report presents a grim outlook but also sheds light on positive strides. Successful global initiatives, such as the phased elimination of ozone-depleting substances following the Montreal Protocol, have led to a smaller Antarctic ozone hole between 2011 and 2020.
The Montreal Protocol phases down the consumption and production of the different ODS in a stepwise manner, with different timetables for developed and developing countries. The treaty evolves over time in light of new scientific, technical, and economic developments, and it continues to be amended and adjusted.
However, the report emphasises the pressing need for more significant actions. Even though public and private climate financing nearly doubled from 2011 to 2020, a sevenfold increase is imperative by the decade’s conclusion to align with climate goals.