Within the next five years, everyone on Earth should be protected by early warning systems against increasingly extreme weather and climate change, according to an ambitious new United Nations target announced today.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has tasked the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to lead the effort and present an action plan to achieve this goal at the next UN climate conference in Egypt this November.
The announcement was made on World Meteorological Day on 23 March, which this year has the theme Early Warning and Early Action.
“Human-caused climate disruption is now damaging every region. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change details the suffering already happening. Each increment of global heating will further increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events,” said Mr Guterres.
“We must invest equally in adaptation and resilience. That includes the information that allows us to anticipate storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts,” said the UN chief.
However, one-third of the world’s people, mainly in least developed countries and small island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems. In Africa, it is even worse: 60 per cent of people lack coverage.
“This is unacceptable, particularly with climate impacts sure to get even worse,” said Mr Guterres.
“Early warnings and action save lives. To that end, today I announce the United Nations will spearhead new action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years. I have asked the World Meteorological Organization to lead this effort and to present an action plan at the next UN climate conference, later this year in Egypt,” Mr Guterres said in a video message to the World Meteorological Day ceremony.
Climate change is already very visible through more extreme weather in all parts of the world. We are seeing more intense heatwaves and drought and forest fires. There is more water vapor in the atmosphere, which leads to extreme rainfall and deadly flooding. The warming of the ocean fuels more powerful tropical storms and rising sea levels increase the impacts.
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