2017 is set to be in top three hottest years: WMO: 

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2017 is set to be in top three hottest years: WMO

Context:

In its annual review, the UN says the gap between carbon cutting plans and the reductions required to keep temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius is “alarmingly high”.

Introduction:

  • The new emissions gap report finds that global greenhouse emissions by 2020 “are likely to be at the high end of the range” consistent with keeping temperature rises below 2 degrees or 1.5C.
  • The UN has published an annual analysis of emissions every year since 2010.
  • According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), it will likely be the hottest year in the absence of the El Nino phenomenon.
  • On the UN Climate talk, researchers from the WMO have presented their annual state of the Global Climate report.
  • According to the WMO, this year vies with 2015 to be the second or third warmest mark yet recorded
  • This year’s greenhouse gas bulletin produced by the WMO is based on measurements taken in 51 countries.
  • Research stations dotted around the globe measure concentrations of warming gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Highlight of the report:

  • The report suggests that signatories of the Paris accord must significantly increase their ambitions in the new and updated national plans that will have to be submitted by 2020.
  • Solar, wind, efficient appliances, efficient passenger cars, planting more trees and preventing deforestation would more than cover the emissions gap.
  • The recommended actions in these areas would have a modest or net-negative cost says the report and could shave 22 gigatonnes of carbon equivalent by 2030.
  • The scientists argue that the long-term trend of warming driven by human activities continues unabated.
  • In terms of which countries as doing their fair share, the UN report says China, the EU, India and Japan are on track to meet their 2020 pledges.

Global impact of Climate Change:

  • Two Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the same year in the US.
  • Hurricane Irma was a Category 5 storm for the longest period on record. Rain gauges in Nederland, Texas, the largest ever recorded for a single event in the mainland US.
  • There were also significant flooding events with large loss of life in Sierra Leone, in Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Peru among many others.
  • Drought and heat waves affected many parts of Africa and South America. In Somalia, more than half of cropland was impacted with herds reduced by 40-60%.
  • More than 11 million people are experiencing severe food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
  • The Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index, which measures the intensity and duration of these events, showed its highest ever monthly values in September this year.
  • With UN talks on climate change now underway here in Bonn, the report is likely to reinforce a sense of urgency among many delegates.
  • According to experts, the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago, in the mid-Pliocene Epoch. The climate then was 2-3C warmer, and sea levels were 10-20m higher due to the melting of Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheets.
  • The rapid increase in methane since 2007, especially in 2014, 2015, and 2016, is different. This was not expected in the Paris agreement. Methane growth is strongest in the tropics and subtropics.
  • Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
  • Researchers say a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years.

What is climate change?

  • Climate change is a long-term shift in the statistics of the weather (including its averages).
  • For example, it could show up as a change in climate normals (expected average values for temperature and precipitation) for a given place and time of year, from one decade to the next

EI-Nino:

  • El Niño impacts the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by causing droughts that limit the uptake of CO2 by plants and trees.
  • Warming of Pacific Ocean
  • Near Western coast of Peru and Ecuador.
  • It weakens the trade winds and changes in Southern Oscillation, thereby affects the rainfall pattern across the world.

Its impact:To India

  • Drought condition decreases the agriculture output, leads to food inflation.
  • Declined supply of cotton, oilseeds and sugarcane negatively affects the textile, edible oil and food processing industries respectively.

To World

  • Drought situation over South East Asia and Australia hurts rice and wheat cultivation respectively.
  • Warm condition over Peru coast: unsuitable for Plankton population, thus bad for fishing industry. Birds migrate in search of fishes, thus less guano dropping for Fertilizer industry in Peru and Ecuador.
  • Flood situation in South America & US Midwest lead to decline in coffee-cocoa and corn-wheat production respectively.

What are greenhouse gases?

  • Greenhouse gases trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere to keep the planet warm enough to sustain life, this process is called the greenhouse effect.
  • It is a natural process and without these gases, the Earth would be too cold for humans, plants and other creatures to live.
  • The natural greenhouse effect exists due to the balance of the major types of greenhouse gases. However, when abnormally high levels of these gases accumulate in the air, more heat starts getting trapped and leads to the enhancement of the greenhouse effect.

What are the causes of rising emissions?

  • Human-caused emissions have been increasing greenhouse levels which is raising worldwide temperatures and driving global warming.Burning coal, oil and gas produces carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.
  • Cutting down forests (deforestation). Trees help to regulate the climate by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. So when they are cut down, that beneficial effect is lost and the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect.
  • Increasing livestock farming. Cows and sheep produce large amounts of methane when they digest their food.
  • Fertilizers containing nitrogen produce nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Fluorinated gases produce a very strong warming effect, up to 23 000 times greater than CO2. Thankfully these are released in smaller quantities and are being phased down by EU regulations.

What is Paris Agreement?

  • It is an agreement within the UNFCCC dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The Paris Accord is considered as a turning point for global climate policy.

What are the aims of the Paris agreement?

  • The central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • It further aims at pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • The agreement aims to increase the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
  • It also aims at making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
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