Four key climate change indicators all set new record highs in 2021, the United Nations said, warning that the global energy system was driving humanity towards catastrophe
Credits: ALEX HALADA/AFP

Four key climate change indicators all set new record highs in 2021, the United Nations said, warning that the global energy system was driving humanity towards catastrophe

Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification all set new records last year, the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its "State of the Global Climate in 2021" report.

The annual overview is "a dismal litany of humanity's failure to tackle climate disruption", UN chief Antonio Guterres said.

"The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe.The report confirmed that the past seven years were the top seven hottest years on record.

Back-to-back La Nina events at the start and end of 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures last year.

Even so, it was still one of the warmest years ever recorded, with the average global temperature in 2021 about 1.11 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level.Four key indicators of climate change "build a consistent picture of a warming world that touches all parts of the Earth system", the report said.

Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new global high in 2020, when the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm) globally, or 149 percent of the pre-industrial level.Ocean heat hit a record high last year, exceeding the 2020 value, the report said.

And it is expected that the upper 2,000 metres of the ocean will continue to warm in the future -- "a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial timescales", said the WMO, adding that the warmth was penetrating to ever deeper levels.

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