2017 “could be second-hottest on record”

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The UN weather agency WMO data confirms a long-term warming trend, with temperatures topping 50 degrees Centigrade in Asia in 2017, record-breaking hurricanes, devastating monsoons in Asia and relentless drought in East Africa. Photo: WMO

Major international climate change negotiations have begun in Germany amid a warning from UN weather experts that 2017 may prove to be the second-hottest year on record.

The warmest to date was 2016, with 2015 not far behind.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) finding – issued in its annual State of the Climate report – shows that average global temperatures this year are 1.1 degrees Centigrade higher than the pre-industrial period.

They are also reckoned to be up to 0.5 degrees Centigrade warmer than the 1981 to 2010 average.

Daniel Johnson has more.

This year’s near-record temperatures have happened despite the absence of a powerful El Nino –  the climatic phenomenon that’s associated with warmer seas, flash-floods and drought – which scientists say was behind unprecedented conditions seen in 2016.

Here’s WMO senior scientist Omar Baddour, speaking in Geneva:

“Last year if you remember we had a push-up by the strong El Nino event which boosted the long-term temperature beyond the long-term trend…And also if we consider comparable years which have not been influence by El Nino, 2017 is the warmest year not influenced by El Niño.”

The agency’s findings coincide with findings that carbon dioxide concentrations reached new highs in 2016 and increased at an unparalleled rate.

In addition to focusing on global temperatures, the WMO report provides data on extreme weather events and long-term indicators of climate change, such as sea level rise, ocean acidification and Arctic sea ice melt.

The findings will help discussions in the German city of Bonn where the Climate Change Conference got under way on Monday.

The event is an opportunity for governments to push ahead with plans to implement the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement – and accelerate development that is sustainable, resilient and safe.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’28″