According to the UN, the years 2010 to 2019 are probably the hottest decade since weather records began. In 2019 alone, the temperature was 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), presented at the Madrid Climate Conference.
2019 will bring a decade of exceptional global heat, declining ice and rising sea levels – fueled by manmade greenhouse gas emissions. "CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries and even longer in the oceans," the researchers warn.
As much CO2 in the atmosphere as it was 15 million years ago
According to WMO, CO2 concentrations have risen to a new record. They are now as high as they have been 15 million years ago. The amount of likewise climate-damaging methane also rose to record highs and is now 259 percent above pre-industrial levels.
According to estimates, greenhouse gas emissions would have to be reduced by 7.6 per cent annually in order to reach the Paris target of a warming of no more than two degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
The researchers published a graph showing the annual deviations from the average temperature in the pre-industrial era and a forecast for the year 2025.
2019 is on the way to becoming the third or second-best year. Especially in the Arctic and Alaska it was unusually warm this year. The temperatures in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania were also above average. Colder than usual, it was only in large parts of North America.
Further results at a glance:
The sea level has risen since the beginning of satellite measurements in 1993 due to the melting ice masses in Greenland and the Antarctic and reached a peak in October.
The Arctic sea ice area reached the second lowest level since the beginning of satellite measurements in September. In October, further record lows followed.
The oceans, which act as a buffer by absorbing CO2 and heat, are coming under increasing pressure. In 2019, the heat content in the upper 700 meters reached a new record since measurements began in the 1950s. In addition, seawater is on average 26 percent more acidic than it was at the beginning of the industrial age, a burden on marine ecosystems.
The report is also a review of the global weather. In the US, between July 2018 and June 2019, it rained more than ever since weather records began. Europe experienced a record heat wave in the summer and unusually frequent bush fires occurred in Siberia and Alaska.
Climate change would make extreme weather events more likely, the researchers warn. "If we do not take urgent climate action now, temperatures will rise more than three degrees Celsius by the end of the century," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
In the next two weeks, 196 states and the EU will negotiate how the Paris Climate Agreement can be implemented and climate change mitigated. By 2020, all states should submit more ambitious plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, with the necessary guidelines to be set in Madrid. (Here you can read more about it.)
"Not even beginning to fight climate change"
"Unless we change our lifestyle quickly, we endanger life itself," warned UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the opening of the climate summit in Madrid. Humanity knowingly destroys the ecosystems that keep it alive. Especially the countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions would have to do more. Despite promises to the contrary, greenhouse gas emissions have risen by an average of 1.5 per cent over the past decade.
Korean climate economist Hoesung Lee, chairman of the IPCC, said the fatal consequences of global warming would be faster and more massive than expected, such as rising sea levels and ocean warming. It would be necessary changes in the life and economy of unknown magnitude. "We are not even beginning to fight climate change."
The Federal Government was not yet represented on Monday in Madrid, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) is only in the second week of negotiations here. Development Minister Gerd Müller will not travel this year. (Why, he tells in the SPIEGEL interview.)
The United States is also taking part in the Climate Change Conference, even though US President Donald Trump has announced that it has opted out of the Paris Agreement.