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DATA STORY : State of the Global Climate 2021 report

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Published: 23rd May, 2022

The WMO State of the Global Climate in 2021 report confirmed that the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record. 2021 was “only” one of the seven warmest because of a La Niña event at the start and end of the year. The report was based on data for the first nine months of 2021.

The UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said these were clear signs of humanity’s impact on the planet, which was bringing long-lasting effects. Extreme weather, which the WMO called the day-to-day face of the climate emergency, wreaked a heavy toll on human lives and led to hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. 

Droughts and floods triggered food price rises that have been exacerbated in 2022. The world’s oceans absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases and 2021 set a record. The increasing warmth in the ocean, which is irreversible over timescales of centuries to millennia, has been especially strong in the last 20 years. Much of the ocean experienced at least one strong marine heatwave in 2021.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls for the rapid phasing out of fossil fuels, transition at scale to renewable energy and investment in carbon dioxide removal. These and other actions are set out in the IPCC’s Mitigation of Climate Change report, which found that between 2010 to 2019, global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history.

The UN says affordable, scalable solutions are available now to help countries “leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies”.

The WMO State of the Global Climate report complements the IPCC Sixth Assessment report, which includes data up to 2019. The new WMO report provides information and practical examples for policy-makers on how the climate change indicators outlined in the IPCC reports played out during the recent years globally and how the associated implications on extremes have been felt at national and regional level in 2021. The WMO State of the Global Climate report will be used as an official document for the UN Climate Change negotiations known as COP27, which will take place in Egypt later this year.

This data story aims to highlight key findings of WMO’s State of the Global Climate in 2021 report.

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