WMO: Still time to act on climate change

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There is still a window of opportunity to prevent dangerous climate change and preserve the planet for future generations. But it is closing fast, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which says that the urgent need to cut greenhouse gases is based on overwhelming scientific evidence.

WMO is supporting the Climate Summit convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on 23 September with a number of initiatives. These underline the need for concerted international action to tame rapid climate change, which may increase temperatures and sea levels to life-threatening levels in the coming decades, and to slow ocean acidification which threatens marine life.

The Summit will serve as a public platform for government, finance, business and civil society leaders to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.

Well-known weather presenters, who have prepared a series of Weather Reports for 2050, will accompany the WMO delegation to New York to increase awareness that climate change will mean more intense heat-waves, droughts, floods and more damaging tropical cyclones in many countries in the future.

"Time is not on our side," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. "With every year that passes, greenhouse gas concentrations reach higher and higher levels. The more we wait, the more difficult, the more expensive, the more challenging it will be to adapt to climate change caused by human activities."

"If we don't act on climate change, it means we are living at the expense of what we leave to our children. It's like borrowing money and leaving a huge debt to our children. This is exactly what we are doing with climate change," said Mr Jarraud.

"Action is still possible. It will require bold decisions, courageous decisions," said Mr Jarraud.

Record Greenhouse Gas Levels

Ahead of the summit, WMO released its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. This showed that atmospheric concentrations of the main long-lived greenhouse gases reached new records in 2013. It also showed that carbon dioxide levels grew at the fastest rate since the present network of international observations started in 1984.

Preliminary data indicated that this was possibly related to reduced CO2 uptake by the earth's biosphere. Further research will be conducted into analyzing this further.

"This is a worrying signal," said Mr Jarraud. "It might be an alarm bell. We need to find out."

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