Critical global indicators of the climate crisis broke records in 2021, according to a UN report, from rising oceans to the levels of heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere.
The UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said these were clear signs of humanity’s impact on the planet, which was bringing long-lasting effects. Extreme weather, which the WMO called the day-to-day face of the climate emergency, wreaked a heavy toll on human lives and led to hundreds of billions of dollars in damages, the agency said.
Droughts and floods triggered food price rises that have been exacerbated in 2022. The WMO’s State of the Global Climate in 2021 report also found the past seven years have been the hottest recorded.
“Today’s State of the Climate report is a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption. Fossil fuels are a dead end – environmentally and economically,” said António Guterres, the secretary general of the UN.
The world’s oceans absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases and 2021 set a record. The increasing warmth in the ocean, which is irreversible over timescales of centuries to millennia, has been especially strong in the last 20 years. Much of the ocean experienced at least one strong marine heatwave in 2021, the WMO said.