(ORDO NEWS) — The United Nations said that within five years the entire world must be covered by weather early warning systems to protect people from the worsening impacts of climate change.
A third of the world’s population, mostly in the least developed countries and developing small island states, is not covered by early warning systems, the UN said, and 60% of Africa’s population is open to weather disasters.
The plan will cost $1.5 billion, but the UN insists the money will be well spent compared to the devastation caused by meteorological disasters.
“The United Nations will lead new action to ensure that every person on earth is protected by early warning systems within five years,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced as he unveiled the plan on World Meteorological Day.
Proper early warning systems for floods, droughts, heatwaves or storms let people know when dangerous weather is coming and determine action plans for governments and individuals to minimize the effects.
Each step of global warming will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events,” Guterres said. “Early warning systems save lives. Let’s make sure they work for everyone.”
Return on investment
The UN World Meteorological Organization will present the action plan at the next UN climate conference in Egypt in November.
WMO chief Petteri Taalas said the $1.5 billion needed to build weather, water and climate early warning services would provide one of the highest returns on investment in climate adaptation.
The organization believes that this investment will save countless lives, protect the most vulnerable, and make good economic sense.
The WMO said the number of weather events it recorded increased five-fold from 1970 to 2019 due to climate change and an increase in extreme weather events, as well as improved monitoring.
“Thanks to more effective warnings, the death toll has been reduced by almost a factor of three over the same period,” the organization said.
The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, adopted at the COP21 summit, called for global warming to be limited to no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial (1850-1900) levels, and ideally closer to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Guterres said it was critical to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C as the hotter the planet gets, the more extreme weather events become more frequent and intense.
“To maintain 1.5, global emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century,” he said. However, carbon emissions will rise by almost 14 percent this decade.
There is also the fear that as countries move away from Russian oil and gas after the war in Ukraine at the Kremlin’s behest, short-term alternatives will turn into new long-term deals that perpetuate dependence on fossil fuels, the final nail in the Goal 1 coffin. 5 C.
One of the problems stemming from Africa’s lack of advanced weather monitoring systems is that climate predictions are based on scarce information.
While West African countries have the best early warning coverage on the continent, and individual states such as Kenya and Morocco have acceptable services, central Africa is poorly covered.
Mohamed Adow, founder of the Nairobi-based climate think tank Power Shift Africa, told AFP this leads to blind choice in preparation for more extreme weather events.
“How to build an extreme weather early warning system without data?” – he said.
“Let’s say you’re building a meter-high sea wall due to sea level rise. But what if the risk of sea level rise in your area is higher?”
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