Warmest decade in history also saw drop in deaths from ‘extreme climate events’: World Meteorological Organisation

A major contributor to the substantial fall in the number of casualties from extreme weather has been improved early warning systems, and improvements in forecasting and disaster management

December 05, 2023 09:12 pm | Updated December 06, 2023 03:19 am IST - DUBAI

Heatwaves were responsible for the highest number of human casualties. Representational file image.

Heatwaves were responsible for the highest number of human casualties. Representational file image. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The decade from 2011-2020 was the warmest ever in history. While there has been a rise in economic losses from extreme weather and climate losses, this was the decade with the lowest number of deaths from extreme events, said a report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on Tuesday.

Also read | 2023 set to be hottest year ever: UN

The agency attributed this to an improvement in ‘early warning system’ driven by improvements in forecasting and better disaster management. In India, for instance, improvements in forecasting cyclone formation and the time it took to reach land has led to greater preparedness and evacuating those most at risk to higher ground.

“The number of casualties from extreme weather and climate events has gone down substantially over time. A major contributor to this decrease has been improved early warning systems, driven by improvements in forecasting, coupled with improved disaster management. The 2011-2020 decade was the first since 1950 when there was not a single short-term event with 10,000 deaths or more,” says the report The Global Climate 2011-2020: A Decade of Acceleration.

The report also says that this was the first decade that the depleted ozone hole visibly showed recovery. The success of the Montreal Protocol, a treaty that brought countries together to agree on phasing out ozone-depleting gases, particularly refrigerants, is the inspiration for the United Nations-led climate charter to convene annual Conference of Parties-meetings to address the challenge from greenhouse gases and climate change.

Glaciers that were measured around the world thinned by approximately 1 metre per year on average between 2011 and 2020. Greenland and Antarctica lost 38% more ice between 2011 and 2020 than during the 2001-2010 period. The report cited no specific reference to Himalayan glaciers but had one mention of the 2021 Uttarakhand rock-avalanche that was triggered from a breach in the Nanda Devi glacier in the Himalayas.

The report underlined that human caused climate change significantly increased the risks from extreme heat events. Heatwaves were responsible for the highest number of human casualties, while tropical cyclones caused the most economic damage.

Public and private climate finance almost doubled between 2011 and 2020. However, it needed to increase at least seven times by the end of this decade to achieve climate objectives, including keeping global temperature from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Centigrade by the end of the century.

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