Climate change continued its relentless march in 2020


Climate change continued its relentless march in 2020, which is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record. The years from 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, with the warmest six years all being since 2015, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise, committing the planet to further warming for many generations to come because of the long lifetime of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to the report.

Ocean heat is at record levels and more than 80 percent of the global ocean experienced a marine heatwave at some time in 2020, with widespread repercussions for marine ecosystems already suffering from more acidic waters due to carbon dioxide absorption, according to the report.

The year 2020 has, unfortunately, been yet another extraordinary year for our climate. We saw new extreme temperatures on land, sea and especially in the Arctic. Wildfires consumed vast areas in Australia, Siberia, the US West Coast and South America, sending plumes of smoke circumnavigating the globe. 

We saw a record number of hurricanes in the Atlantic, including unprecedented category four hurricanes in Central America in November. Flooding in parts of Africa and South East Asia led to massive population displacement and undermined food security for millions.

Approximately 10 million displacements, largely due to hydro-meteorological hazards and disasters, were recorded during the first half of 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added also another layer of risk to evacuation, recovery and relief operations related to high-impact events. 

After decades of decline, the recent increase in food insecurity since 2014 is driven by conflicts and economic slowdown as well as by climate variability and extreme weather events.