WMO: Still time to act on climate change

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About one quarter of carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the biosphere, and an additional one quarter by the oceans. The oceans take up about 4 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide per person per day. As a result, the current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years, according to an analysis in the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

"The ocean is the primary driver of the planet's climate and is cushioning the impact of climate change, but at a heavy price. If global warming is not a strong enough reason to cut CO2 emissions, ocean acidification should be, since its effects are already being felt and will increase for many decades to come, " said Wendy Watson-Wright, Executive Secretary of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, which contributed to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Weather Reports for the Future

During the summit, WMO will be displaying its acclaimed series of imaginary Weather Reports for the Future, depicting likely local impacts of global climate change. The year 2050 was selected as half-way point to the end of the 21st century, by which time average global temperatures could rise more than 4 degrees Celsius (7.2°F) if greenhouse gas emissions from human activities continue to increase at the current rate or faster.

The reports were prepared by well-known weather presenters from Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkino Faso, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Japan, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, the United States of America and Zambia.

Scenarios include relentless heat-waves leading to record fatalities; mega-droughts which cause entire regions to dry up; disastrous flooding from torrential rains fed by a warmer, moister atmosphere; inundation of coastal cities from far-distant hurricanes fuelled by rising sea-levels; and damage to marine life and coral reefs from ocean acidification.

The weather reports draw on climate change scenarios based on continued high emissions levels. All the presenters highlight that recent weather disasters give a foretaste of the future.

"Climate change is affecting the weather everywhere. It makes it more extreme and disturbs established patterns. That means more disasters; more uncertainty," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "We can reduce the risks by cutting global greenhouse gas emissions and building low-carbon economies. Let's work together to make our societies safer and more resilient. Please join me in taking action on climate change," said Mr Ban Ki-moon in a message on the videos.

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