The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) just released its latest annual report the State of the Global Climate 2022, revealing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) on the land, the ocean, and the atmosphere, painting a dire picture of droughts, floods and heatwaves on every continent. It concludes with detailed sections on adaptation and mitigation and stresses the role each of us can play in combatting the climate crisis.

The good news here is that in 2022, a record 12% of global electricity came from solar and wind and there is a possibility that “power sector emissions may have peaked.”

Wind and solar are slowing the rise in power sector emissions. If all the electricity from wind and solar instead came from fossil generation, power sector emissions would have been 20% higher in 2022. The growth alone in wind and solar generation (+557 TWh) met 80% of global electricity demand growth in 2022 (+694 TWh). Clean power growth is likely to exceed electricity demand growth in 2023; this would be the first year for this to happen outside of a recession. With average growth in electricity demand and clean power, we forecast that 2023 will see a small fall in fossil generation (-47 TWh, -0.3%), with bigger falls in subsequent years as wind and solar grow further. That would mean 2022 hit “peak” emissions. A new era of falling power sector emissions is close. Global Electricity Review 2023

Designed as a story map, the WMO report observes ecosystems and the environment, detailing the effect of climate change on events that reoccur in nature, events such as the migration of birds or the timing of trees blossoming.  It is laced with ‘quizzes’ after each section to gauge your understanding of the processes it is explaining. It concludes with a questionnaire to determine if you are ready to take action after proceeding through the report.

Some takeaways: 

No surprise that GHGs continued to rise in 2022:

  • Carbon dioxide: 415.7ppm ± 0.2  = 149% of pre-industrial levels.
  • Methane: 1908±2 ppb = 262% of pre-industrial levels.
  • Nitrous oxide: 334.5±0.1 ppb = 124% of pre-industrial levels. 
  • “While greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change, populations worldwide continue to be gravely impacted by extreme weather and climate events. For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record-breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

    ”However, collaboration amongst UN agencies has proven to be very effective in addressing humanitarian impacts induced by extreme weather and climate events, especially in reducing associated mortality and economic losses. The UN Early Warnings for All Initiative aims to fill the existing capacity gap to ensure that every person on earth is covered by early warning services. At the moment about one hundred countries do not have adequate weather services in place. Achieving this ambitious task requires improvement of observation networks, investments in early warning, hydrological and climate service capacities,” he said.

    Released in advance of April 22 Earth Day, the WMO State of the Global Climate report reflected the statements made by UN Secretary-General António Guterres yesterday:

    “We have the tools, the knowledge, and the solutions. But we must pick up the pace. We need accelerated climate action with deeper, faster emissions cuts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius. We also need massively scaled-up investments in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the most vulnerable countries and communities who have done the least to cause the crisis,” said Mr. Guterres.

    The report noted that in 2022 “the planet was 1.15 ± 0.13 °C warmer than the pre-industrial (1850-1900) average, making the last 8 years the warmest on record … despite three consecutive years of a cooling La Niña – such a “triple-dip” La Niña has happened only three times in the past 50 years.”

    Global mean sea level (GMSL) continued to rise in 2022, reaching a new record high for the satellite altimeter record (1993-2022). The rate of global mean sea level rise has doubled between the first decade of the satellite record (1993-2002, 2.27 mm∙yr-) and the last (2013-2022, 4.62 mm∙yr).

    For the period 2005-2019, total land ice loss from glaciers, Greenland, and Antarctica contributed 36% to the GMSL rise, and ocean warming (through thermal expansion) contributed 55%. Variations in land water storage contributed less than 10%.

    Ocean acidification: CO2 reacts with seawater resulting in a decrease of pH referred to as ‘ocean acidification’. Ocean acidification threatens organisms and ecosystem services. The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report concluded that “There is very high confidence that open ocean surface pH is now the lowest it has been for at least 26 [thousand years] and current rates of pH change are unprecedented since at least that time.

    More excerpts from the report:

    In 2022, large areas with above normal precipitation included large parts of Asia and the south-west Pacific, areas of northern South America and the Caribbean, the eastern Sahel region, parts of southern Africa, Sudan, and eastern Europe.

    Meanwhile, regions with rainfall deficits included western and central Europe, northwest Africa, parts of the Middle East, Central Asia and the Himalayas, Eastern Africa and Madagascar, central and southern South America, and central and western North America.

    It is expected that the ocean will continue to warm well into the future – a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial time scales.

    Sea Level Rise
    As water warms, it expands. Therefore, rising ocean temperatures are a key contributor to rising sea levels around the globe.
    In 2022, global mean sea level continued to rise.
    The sea has risen approximately 3.4 ± 0.3 mm per year over the past 30 years of the satellite altimeter record.

    Other issues covered include food security, glaciers, extreme weather, displacement, more detail on sea level rise, and information on adaptation and mitigation. 

    The WMO reports that the IPCC has determined that Paris Agreement signatories’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) lack the punch needed to address the breadth of the crisis. Again, no surprise that they recommend drastic and near-immediate reduction in emissions to keep global warming within the prescribed 1.5 degree C range. The report stresses the urgency of a transition to clean renewable energy sources.