Rabat – The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released an authoritative and actionable climate science report on September 22. A team of natural and social scientists prepared the report to inform policymakers at the UN Climate Action Summit, which opened Monday, September 23.
United in Science examines gaps between climate science realities and current emissions trajectories. The report found that even though renewables have seen extraordinary growth, fossil fuel use and emissions increased in 2018 and peak emissions will not be reached by 2030, let alone by 2020.
2015-2019 are on track to be the hottest five years in recorded history, according to the report. Natural and social scientist authors highlight how major heatwaves, record-breaking fires, floods, drought, and tropical cyclones have devastated socio-economic development during this period.
Climate records have marked the five year period within the MENA region.
In June 2018, Quriyat on coastal Oman recorded a 24-hour minimum temperature of 42.6°C, possibly the highest such temperature recorded on a thermometer. Ouargla in the Algerian Sahara reported a maximum temperature of 51.3°C in July 2018, the highest ever reliably recorded on the African continent.
Morocco has witnessed droughts and shifting seasons since 2015. The 2016 drought was the most severe in three decades, according to the Moroccan government. Its impact on Morocco’s key agricultural sector prompted King Mohammed VI, who inaugurated the Noor Ouarzazate Solar Complex, the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, to issue a decree calling on the faithful to pray for rain.
Current policies fall short for Paris Agreement targets
Climate policies in place to achieve the Paris agreement’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) will not achieve their goals. Current ambitions must be tripled to meet the 2°C limit and increased approximately fivefold to meet the 1.5°C limit, according to the WMO report.
Failing to meet these limits will result in catastrophic global conditions, climate scientists continue to warn. According to the report, if current trends continue, the world will warm by 2.9°C to 3.4°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
Humanity possesses the technical capacity to meet the 1.5°C goal, but doing so will require rapid and unprecedented shifts in all forms of society, according to the IPCC 2018 Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.
“Only immediate and all-inclusive action encompassing: Deep de-carbonization complemented by ambitious policy measures, protection and enhancement of carbon sinks and biodiversity, and efforts to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, will enable us to meet the Paris Agreement,” urged a WMO press release.
Morocco is one of only two countries worldwide on track to meet the 1.5°C target, according to Climate Action Tracker.
Hope persists for international policy negotiations
A global youth climate movement has spotlighted this week’s climate summit and inspired a concurrent Youth Climate Action Summit. The unprecedented call to action brings hope when many are discouraged by insufficient climate crisis legislation.
An experienced international climate negotiator and former chair of the main committee of the UN Climate Convention told Morocco World News that science is taken seriously at negotiations: “The science on climate change has been getting firmer for years. And the observed reality on climate change is always toward the more dire projections.
“Despite the posturing of some politicians, this science is not debated by the international negotiators seeking to find ways to mitigate humankind’s impact on the climate. This complex economic negotiation is producing results.”
He added a call to action: “A great deal more, much more, needs to be done to minimize the worst impacts of climate change.”
Princess Lalla Hasnaa, Chairwoman of the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection, addressed summit members on behalf of King Mohammed VI. Hasnaa delivered a royal speech emphasizing that effective global climate policy requires “effective international solidarity, sustainable financing and a qualitative transfer of technology and know-how” to support countries in the global south.
This statement echoes previous speeches made by King Mohammed VI.
Hasnaa also announced the foundation’s launch of the African Youth Climate Hub, which aims to “showcase leadership and innovation, and to underscore the positive role of African youth.” She explained that the concurrent Youth Climate Summit “provides reasons for optimism, requiring us to respond positively and lend our effective support.”