The State of the Global Climate in 2021 report released on 18 May 2022 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirms that the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record.
According to the Report, drought affected many parts of the world, including the Horn of Africa, Canada, the western United States, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Türkiye. Eastern Africa is facing the very real prospect that the rains will fail for a fourth consecutive season, placing Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in a drought of a length not experienced in the last 40 years.
It states further that humanitarian agencies are warning of devastating impacts on people and livelihoods in the region. In South America, drought caused big agricultural losses and disrupted energy production and river transport.
Drought resilience is at the top of the agenda of the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) underway in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
“The catastrophic effects of multi-year droughts witnessed in every region of the world in the last decade demand action now. Unless we work together to prepare, respond and build resilience to drought, the impacts on our food, water and energy at a time when the global population is growing would create unimaginable social and environmental upheavals,” says Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary.
The WMO report shows that we may be closer to over-shooting the desired temperature rise unless drastic measures are taken. It further states that the average global temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 (± 0.13) °C above the pre-industrial level. It calls for countries to scale up the adoption and diffusion of renewable energy massively.
The report comes on the heels of stark warnings issued in two reports released earlier this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that we had up to 2030 to take actions to get us on track to staying within a temperature rise of no more than 1.5 degrees.
The second edition of the Global Land Outlook released less than a month ago by UNCCD identified some of the human impacts on people and the land they depend on under a business-as-usual scenario.
An area almost the size of South America would be degraded by 2050. About 12-14 per cent of natural areas, farmland, pastures and grazing land would under persistent, long-term declines in productivity. And an additional 69 gigatonnes of carbon would be emitted into the atmosphere through land use change and soil degradation.
What’s more, droughts would increase in frequency, intensity and spread. The Drought in Numbers 2022 report released last week by UNCCD, revealed that the number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 per cent since 2000 and that unless urgent action is taken, droughts may affect over three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050.
UNCCD COP15, which concludes this Friday, 20 May, is expected to adopt decisions to accelerate global action to restore one billion hectares of degrading land, build robust measures for early action on drought, and to strengthen governance at all levels to facilitate the flow of technology and investment where needed.