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'More action required' to fight climate change

By BO LEUNG in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-11-16 09:39

Students of Camoes school shout slogans from inside the school after blocking the entrance as a protest for climate change and against the use of fossil fuels in Lisbon, Portugal, Nov 14, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

A report by the World Meteorological Organization, or WMO, warning that temperatures in Europe have increased at more than twice the global average over the past 30 years is proof that more immediate action must be taken to fight climate change, experts have said.

Saleemul Huq, who is director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, said Europe's hottest summer on record this year "serves as a strong reminder that heat waves, droughts and wildfires will become an everyday reality".

"We should indeed be very worried that we have now entered the era of impacts of human-induced climate change causing losses and damages at greater and greater levels every day, everywhere, and that this is now impacting Europe as well," he added.

The WMO also stressed that the past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record, fuelled by ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat, said the organization's State of the Global Climate in 2022 report.

Stephen Cornelius, global deputy lead on climate and energy at conservation charity WWF, said much remains to be done.

"A huge gap remains between what is needed, what countries have promised, and what is actually happening to cut emissions, build resilience and provide support for vulnerable countries," he said.

"Worse, climate finance remains in limbo. Even as the demand for financial support to enable countries to adapt to climate disasters grows, funding is only trickling in."

According to the WMO, temperatures across Europe have warmed significantly between 1991 and 2021, at an average rate of around 0.5 C per decade. As a result, between 1997 and 2021, Alpine glaciers lost 30 meters in ice thickness.

Savina Carluccio, executive director of the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure, said the WMO report is a reminder that "adaptation and resilience need to be at the forefront of climate action; a focus only on mitigation is inadequate at this stage of the climate crisis".

"Extreme heat puts immense strain on infrastructure systems and can lead to cascading impacts," Carluccio said.

"Additionally, heat waves can be especially challenging within cities, where pavements and buildings increasingly replace open land and vegetation, reducing shade and making urban areas warmer than surrounding rural zones."

With the United Nations COP27 conference currently taking place at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Huq said he wants to see the issues of loss and damage discussed seriously.

"Particularly to set up a Finance Facility for Loss and Damage to raise the profile of the issue and ensure that there is a system in place for those countries most affected by climate change," Huq said.

Cornelius said there must be no more delays and excuses to tackle climate change.

"COP27 climate talks give businesses, governments and consumers an opportunity to secure a sustainable and healthy future for people and the planet. So countries must seize on this opportunity and then deliver on past promises, ambition and action in order to stop the climate crisis spiralling further out of control," he explained.

Jeremy Doyle, global technical advisor of climate adaptation and mitigation at the not-for-profit SNV, said more attention is needed in the most vulnerable regions, where climate impacts are resulting in severe and ongoing water and food crises.

"These regions have far fewer resources to deal with the harsh impacts of climate extremes," he said.

"For example, average annual maximum temperature in northern and southern Africa is likely to be close to 4 C above normal, according to UN regional projections.

"To tackle climate change we want to see more impact-driven finance come out of COP27.Resources need to be focused on achieving climate outcomes."

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