Extreme weather combined with COVID-19 in a double blow for millions of people in 2020. However, the pandemic-related economic slowdown failed to put a brake on climate change drivers and accelerating impacts, according to a new report compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and an extensive network of partners, including the UN Environment Programme and GRID-Arendal.
The report, State of the Global Climate 2020, documents indicators of the climate system, including greenhouse gas concentrations, increasing land and ocean temperatures, sea level rise, melting ice and glacier retreat, and extreme weather. It also highlights impacts on socio-economic development, migration and displacement, food security, and land and marine ecosystems.
2020 was one of the three warmest years on record, despite a cooling La Niña event, the report notes.
COVID-19 added a new and unwelcome dimension to weather, climate, and water-related hazards, with wide-ranging combined impacts on human health and well-being. Mobility restrictions, economic downturns, and disruptions to the agricultural sector exacerbated the effects of extreme weather and climate events along the entire food supply chain, elevating levels of food insecurity and slowing the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
GRID-Arendal, which hosts UNEP's Key Polar Centre, contributed to sections of the report on the Arctic, the region with the biggest temperature deviations from the long-term average.
The report was launched on 19 April at a press conference with the UN Secretary-General and WMO Secretary-General. WMO shares more details in an extensive press release about the report. WMO has also produced a StoryMap with highlights from the report.
Release date: 20 Apr 2021