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World Off-Track to Achieve Climate Goals by 2030, Finds United in Science Report

The world is far from meeting its climate goals as outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to a multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). 

This challenges the effectiveness of global initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger and poverty, enhancing access to clean water, and addressing multifaceted aspects of sustainable development, said WMO in a press release on September 14.

The United in Science report reveals that only 15% of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are achieved. This report systematically examines the impact of climate change and extreme weather events on these goals. It emphasizes the crucial role of weather, climate, and water-related sciences in advancing objectives such as food and water security, clean energy, better health, sustainable oceans, and resilient cities.

Comprising input and expertise from 18 organizations, this annual report is issued ahead of the SDG and Climate Ambition Summit at the United Nations General Assembly.

"2023 has shown all too clearly that climate change is here. Record temperatures are scorching the land and heating the sea, as extreme weather causes global havoc,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.  

Guterres also emphasized the pivotal role of science in addressing these challenges. "Science is central to solutions," she noted. "It is widely understood that weather, climate, and water-related sciences provide the underpinnings for climate action. But it is less recognized how these sciences can supercharge progress on the SDGs across the board."

WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas said, "Groundbreaking scientific and technological advances, such as high-resolution climate modelling, artificial intelligence, and nowcasting, can catalyze transformation to achieve the SDGs."

The report illustrates how weather predictions can boost food production and move closer to achieving zero hunger. It also emphasizes that integrating epidemiology and climate information helps understand and anticipate diseases sensitive to climate. Early warning systems are crucial in reducing poverty by allowing people to prepare and mitigate the impact of extreme events.

Between 1970 and 2021, nearly 12,000 reported disasters from weather, climate, and water extremes, resulting in over 2 million deaths and economic losses exceeding US$ 4.3 trillion. These losses disproportionately affected developing economies, undermining sustainable development.

The need for science and solutions is more urgent than ever, said WMO.

Rising global temperatures have led to an increase in extreme weather events. There is a 66% chance that the annual mean global near-surface temperature will temporarily exceed 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels for at least one of the next five years.

Despite these warning signs, progress in reducing the emissions gap for 2030 remains limited. Fossil fuel CO2 emissions increased by 1% globally in 2022 compared to 2021, and preliminary estimates for January-June 2023 show a further 0.3% rise.

To achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement's goals of limiting warming to below 2 °C, and preferably 1.5 °C. The global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 30% and 45%, respectively, by 2030, with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions approaching net zero by 2050. 

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, highlighted the need for increased ambition and action, stating, "We must increase our ambition and action and undertake the real work to transform our economies through a just transition to a sustainable future for people and the planet."


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