Last year was among the three hottest years on record and it rivalled 2016 as the hottest yet, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation said on Thursday.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the WMO’s analysis of five data sets showed again how climate change was the greatest threat facing mankind.
It was “another stark reminder of the relentless pace of climate change, which is destroying lives and livelihoods across our planet", Mr Guterres said.
In 2020, the planet endured sustained heat and bush fires in Siberia, low levels of Arctic sea ice and a
record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season.
In the US, natural disasters cost the economy a record $22 billion, the WMO said.
Governments are not reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases fast enough to meet targets agreed to in 2015 in Paris, the UN said.
A large diesel spill in the Ambarnaya River outside Norilsk. AFP
More than 2,000 hectares of forest were alight over a large area of Krasnoyarsk region, Russia. AP
The islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina were hit by Hurricane Iota, the strongest to affect the country since records are kept. Getty
Submerged houses in Cagayan province, north of Manila, on November 14, 2020, days after Typhoon Vamco hit parts of the country bringing heavy rain and flooding. AFP
Typhoon Vamcobattered the Philippines causing widespread flooding and destruction in areas still reeling from the effects of Super Typhoon Goni. Getty
A freak sandstorm sweeping over Polatli, in Ankara, Turkey . AFP
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services worked to contain a bushfire that has been burned on Fraser Island for six weeks, and is now threatening areas with 1,000-year-old trees. Getty
The Silverado Fire burns along the 241 State Highway in Irvine, California. AP
Residents evacuate their flooded homes in Gresik, East Java on December 15, 2020, as the rainy season brings floods to many areas in Jakarta and Java.AFP
Cars drive along the Golden Gate Bridge under an orange smoke filled sky at midday in San Francisco, California on September 9, 2020. AFP
A rare lightning storm crackles over Mitchell's Cove in early morning in Santa Cruz, California in August. AP
Vehicles drive through a flooded road after heavy monsoon rains, in Karachi, Pakistan. AP
This year has seen record Atlantic hurricanes and western wildfires, devastating floods in Asia and Africa and a hot, melting Arctic. AP
Flood waters move on the street, in Pensacola, Florida after the passing of Hurricane Sally in September 2020. AP Photo
The A-68A iceberg that broke away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica in 2019 is on a collision course with South Georgia island. Reuters
Floating ice in front of the Apusiajik Glacier in south-eastern Greenland. AFP
The Paris accord aimed to keep global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial times and to strive to limit temperature increases to 1.5°C.
So far, temperatures have risen by 1.2°C and the planet is already “witnessing unprecedented weather extremes in every region and on every continent", Mr Guterres said.
“We are headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of 3°C to 5°C this century,” he said.
“Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century.”
The WMO compiled data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre, the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and other sources.
Updated: January 17, 2021 12:06 PM