State of Global Climate Report – UPSC GS3

The World Meteorological Organization(WMO) has released its annual State of the Global Climate Report 2020.
  • 2020 was one of the three warmest years on record despite a cooling La Niña.
  • Decade 2011-2020 was the warmest decade ever.
About Report:
  • The State of the Global Climate report is published annually to keep a track of global warming.
  • Published by WMO.
Key Points
  • Heat despite La-Nina:
    • The record heat in 2020 has been despite near-La Niña conditions prevailing in the equatorial Pacific Ocean since August and moderate La Niña conditions prevailing since October.
    • The La Niña phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon generally has a cooling effect on many parts of the world.
  • High Temperature over Ocean Surfaces:
    • 80% of ocean areas have experienced at least one marine heat wave (MHW) so far in 2020.
  • Global sea-level rise was also similar to 2019 value. This was mainly due to the increased melting of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
  • Greenhouse Gases: Concentrations of the major greenhouse gases continued to increase in 2019 and 2020 despite a temporary reduction in emissions in 2020 due to the COVID-19 response.
  • Arctic Region: In 2020, the Arctic sea-ice extent came down to second-lowest on record.
  • Antarctica Region: Antarctic ice sheet has exhibited a strong mass loss trend since the late 1990s. This trend accelerated around 2005.
Consequences of Global Warming in 2020:
  • Extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, floods, heavy rainfall and droughts impacted many parts of the world and cases of wildfire have also increased this year.
  • Atlantic Hurricane Season: The season witnessed 30 named storms from June to November which is the highest number ever recorded.
  • Heavy Rains: There was heavy rainfall and flooding in many parts of Asia and Africa.
  • Droughts: South America experienced severe droughts with northern Argentina, Paraguay and western areas of Brazil being some of the worst affected.
  • Sea-level rise: Melting of ice resulted in sea level rise which is an existential concern for the small island nations.
  • Population Movements: The climate and weather events have triggered significant population movements and have severely affected vulnerable people on the move, including in the Pacific region and Central America.
  • Agricultural Losses: Brazil alone recorded agricultural losses of 3 billion American dollars.
  • Loss of Human lives, Property and Livelihoods: The most affected were the Sahel and Greater Horn regions of Africa and China, India, Korea and Japan regions of Asia.
Way Forward
  • Environmental ethics should take precedence over other issues like national and strategic interest or economic interest.
  • There is need of enhanced commitment from nations more than their pledged INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) under the Paris Agreement. However, it must not be used to pressurize developing countries to ramp up their global warming mitigation targets.
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