U.N.: World Is ‘Heading in the Wrong Direction’ on Climate

(GENEVA, Switzerland) — With weather disasters costing $200 million a day and irreversible climate catastrophe looming, the world is “heading in the wrong direction,” the United Nations says in a new report that pulls together the latest science on climate change.

The World Meteorological Organization, in the latest stark warning about global warming, said weather-related disasters have increased fivefold over the last 50 years and are killing 115 per day on average—and the fallout is poised to worsen.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cited the floods in Pakistan, heat waves in Europe, droughts in places such as China, the Horn of Africa, and the United States—and pointed the finger at fossil fuels.

“There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction,” he said. “This year’s United in Science report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territories of destruction.”

“Yet each year we double-down on this fossil fuel addiction, even as the symptoms get rapidly worse,” he added.

Based on data from several U.N. agencies, the report showed that there is a 48% chance of global temperatures rising to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit), in five years. There’s a 93% percent chance that one year in the next five will see record heat.

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It comes amid fresh warnings from scientists last week that four climate “tipping points” will likely be triggered if that temperature threshold — set in the 2015 Paris climate accord — is passed.

Many countries are working to reduce the danger of severe weather caused by climate change. In fact, data shows that there have been fewer deaths due to natural disasters in recent decades. But the economic costs of climate-induced natural disasters are expected to increase sharply.

The U.N. report says such “losses and damages” can be limited by timely action to prevent further warming and adapt to the temperature increases that are now inevitable. At the U.N. Climate talks to be held in Egypt, this fall, questions about compensation for poor countries’ losses due to emissions from rich nations will dominate.


Associated Press’s climate coverage and environmental reporting receives funding from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. All content is the sole responsibility of the AP.

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