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State of Global Climate 2020

State of Global Climate 2020

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual State of the Global Climate for 2020. The report was released ahead of the Leaders Summit on Climate, hosted by the US. Extreme weather combined with Covid-19 was a double blow for millions of people in 2020. However, the pandemic-related economic slowdown failed to put a brake on climate change drivers and accelerating impacts.

2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, despite a cooling La Niña event. The global average temperature was about 1.2° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level. Concentrations of the major greenhouse gases in the air continued to increase in 2019 and 2020. Globally, averaged mole fractions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have already exceeded 410 parts per million (ppm), and if the CO2 concentration follows the same pattern as in previous years, it could reach or exceed 414 ppm in 2021.

In 2019, the oceans had the highest heat content on record. In 2020, it has broken this record further. Over 80% of the ocean area experienced at least one marine heatwave in 2020. The percentage of the ocean that experienced “strong” marine heat waves (45%) was greater than that which experienced “moderate” marine heat waves (28%).

Along with the pandemic, people across the world struggled to survive as they faced extreme weather in the form of storms, cyclones, heavy rainfall, and record heat. Response and recovery to people hit by cyclones, storms, and similar extreme weather were constrained throughout the pandemic in 2020.

Mobility restrictions and economic downturns owing to Covid-19 slowed down delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable and displaced populations, who live in dense settlements. The pandemic added a further dimension to human mobility concerns, highlighting the need for an integrated approach to understanding and addressing climate risk and its impact on vulnerable populations.

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Nikhil Thakur

Editor @magazinegogo

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