United Nations — The United Nations said Thursday that new data from its World Meteorological Organization, gathered in partnership with the European Copernicus Climate Change Service, shows July will be the hottest month ever recorded on the planet.
"Climate change is here. It is terrifying, and it is just the beginning," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Thursday.
"Anthropogenic [human-caused greenhouse gas] emissions are ultimately the main driver of these rising temperatures," said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus service. "Extreme weather which has affected many millions of people in July is unfortunately the harsh reality of climate change and a foretaste of the future."
We are now seeing clearly around the world why it is so urgent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said Professor Petteri Taalas, the head of the WMO, the U.N.'s weather service. He called climate action "not a luxury, but a must."
"July's record is unlikely to remain isolated this year ... seasonal forecasts indicate that over land areas temperatures are likely to be well above average, exceeding the 80th percentile of climatology for the time of year," according to Carlo Buontempo of Copernicus' climate change service.
"Climate change will likely combine to fuel global temperature increases and we anticipate we'll see the warmest year on record sometime in the next five years," Dr. Christ Hewitt, WMO director for Climate Services, said Thursday during a briefing for journalists. He predicted that there was "a 98% likelihood that at least one of the next five years will be the warmest on record."
What can be done?
"We can still stop the worst," Guterres said as he laid out a series of steps to be taken to accelerate action to reduce global emissions. Here are some of the things the U.N. chief said could and should be done:
- The multilateral development banks should "leverage their funds to mobilize much more private finance at reasonable cost to developing countries — and scale up their funding to renewables, adaptation and loss and damage.
- World leaders need to come to the "Climate Ambition Summit" on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September in New York with stronger commitments to reduce their nations' emissions and help other countries cope with the changing climate.
- Developed countries need to honor their commitments to provide $100 billion a year to developing countries for climate support and to present "clear and credible" roadmaps to double finance by 2025 for the cause.
- Countries should plan to protect their people from "the searing heat, fatal floods, storms, droughts, and raging fires that result" from hotter global temperatures.
- Financial institutions must stop lending money to fund fossil extraction, shifting their underwriting and investments to renewables instead.
- Fossil fuel companies must chart their moves toward clean energy and stop expanding operations to extract oil, gas and coal.
Guterres' message was stern, demanding: "No more greenwashing. No more deception, and no more abusive distortion of anti-trust laws to sabotage net-zero alliances."
He added that the world needed "to exit coal by 2030 for OECD (developed) countries and 2040 for the rest of the world."
Buontempo told CBS News during the briefing Thursday that there were additional, less expensive steps that cities and local governments could also take to prepare their residents for the climate changes, including creating more green spaces in urban environments and looking at adapting working hours and school calendars.
"There are a number of these actions that actually are not expensive or not too demanding and can have a profound impact on livelihood of people," he said.
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