The UN warns that the world is "heading in the wrong direction" as climate disasters increase

(GENEVA, Switzerland) — With weather disasters costing $200 million a day and irreversible climate looming catastrophe, the world is “heading in the wrong direction,” the United Nations says in a new report that brings together the latest science on climate change.

The World Meteorological Organization, in the latest stark warning about global warming, said weather-related disasters have increased fivefold in the past 50 years and are killing an average of 115 a day – and the effects are poised to worsen.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres quoted floods in Pakistan, heat waves in Europethe droughts in places like ChinaThe Horn of Africa and the United States – and pointed the finger at fossil fuels.

“There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels,” he said. “This year’s Science United report shows climate impacts are heading into uncharted territories of destruction.”

“Yet every year we are doubling this dependence on fossil fuels, even though the symptoms are rapidly worsening,” he added.

The report, compiled from data collected by several UN agencies and partners, cites a 48% chance that global temperature increases from pre-industrial times will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next five years. There is a 93% chance that one year out of the next five will be record warm.

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It comes amid fresh warnings from scientists last week that four climate “tipping points” are likely to be triggered if this temperature threshold – set out in the 2015 Paris climate agreement – is crossed.

Many governments are already trying to deal with the threat of more terrible weather due to climate change, and data show that deaths from natural disasters have decreased in recent years. Yet the economic cost of climate-induced catastrophes is projected to rise sharply.

The UN report says such “loss and damage” can be limited by timely action to prevent further warming and adapt to the temperature rise that is now inevitable. Issues surrounding compensation for the damage poor nations suffer as a result of emissions produced by rich countries will play a major role at upcoming UN climate talks in Egypt this fall.


The Associated Press’s climate and environment coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about the AP Climate Initiative here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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