Greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record levels: WMO chief economist
Global greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record levels in 2018-2019, the chief economist of World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has told United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
"Global average greenhouse gas concentrations of CO2 (carbon dioxide) reached 405.5 parts per million in 2017 and continue to rise to record levels in 2018-2019," Professor Pavel Kabat was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency on Friday.
"The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3 million to 5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now."
The past four years have been the warmest on record, with many high-impact weather events which bear the hallmarks of climate change. The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The global average temperature is nearly 1 degree Celcius above the pre-industrial era, said Kabat in the WMO's first ever briefing to the Security Council.
He noted that the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland, has put extreme weather, natural disasters, climate change and water crises as the top four existential threats in its Global Risks Report 2019.
These show significant interconnections with other shocks and impacts to peace and security and sustainable development, he said.
Research by the WMO and its partners and network of scientists shows that sea level rise is accelerating, as is the melting of polar ice sheets, posing an increasing existential threat to small island developing countries, said Kabat.
The shrinking of Arctic sea ice affects not just the local environment and indigenous peoples, but also influences weather patterns in the world's populated regions. Glacier melt continues unchecked, with short-term impacts including increased flooding and a long-term threat to water supplies for many millions of people.
Ocean heat content is also at record levels, with far-reaching, lasting consequences for marine life, coral reefs and food security, he said.
Climate change has a multitude of security impacts, rolling back the gains in nutrition and access to food, heightening the risk of wildfires and exacerbating air quality challenges, increasing the potential for water conflict, leading to more internal displacement and migration, warned Kabat.
"It is increasingly regarded as a national security threat."
He expressed the hope for closer collaboration and for the establishment of mechanisms for future briefings to the Security Council "to provide authoritative information for decision-making and support the diplomatic business of the council in areas appropriate to the understanding and analysis of peace and security threats."
The WMO is honoured to support UN member states and the Security Council in the provision of top-quality information on weather, climate, water and environment-related threats to peace and security, he said.
Kabat said there is a need for a new political and investment paradigm to build a new generation of hydro-climate forecasting and early-warning services.
"This should become a component of basic country-infrastructure, like roads and bridges," he said.