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expert reaction to climate report ‘United in Science 2020’

A report, published by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), looked at climate change indicators and impacts.

Prof Hannah Cloke, a natural hazards researcher at the University of Reading, said:

“This report provides a comprehensive overview of the latest facts and figures about climate change, its impacts and how we’re responding to it. This is an important snapshot of the latest scientific evidence.

“The report highlights that the vast majority of disasters involve too much, too little or poor quality water. It also shows how the number of events leading to death and damage continue to increase over time and how water scarcity will hit the most vulnerable parts of the world the hardest in the future. 

“We are seeing more and more weather extremes, like heatwaves and drought as well as floods, and that is down to the greenhouse gases we have already emitted into the atmosphere. These effects will only increase and get stronger as emissions continue, presenting us with further challenges to our lifestyles and indeed our lives. This is why the Paris Agreement goals are important, and why the world needs to take them far more seriously before it’s too late.

“I would argue that there is no such thing as a natural disaster. Although we need to pay attention to the natural causes of events, disasters are always caused by humans being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or being ill prepared to deal with the effects of nature. As coastal villages are engulfed by floods or as those living in informal settlements struggle to get enough water to live, it is clear that our most vulnerable populations will continue to suffer the worst effects of climate change and we need to take urgent action.”


Ed Blockley, the Met Office’s polar climate science manager, said:

“September 2020 is now the second time in the modern record that the extent of Arctic sea ice has dropped below 4 million square kilometres. This is a shocking threshold which has been crossed because this summer has seen several periods of very rapid sea ice loss linked, in part, to the record-breaking heatwave in Siberia. The Arctic is one of the most vulnerable regions on Earth to climate change and warming here will have consequences both for the region and the planet as a whole.”


Prof Adam Scaife, head of near-term climate prediction at the Met Office, said:

“In the next five years, there is a one-in-five chance of a single year exceeding 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. A single year above 1.5 C does not breach the Paris Agreement commitment but it does place even more pressure upon efforts to maintain a long-term temperature average below that threshold.”



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