2021 remained fifth hottest year on record

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2021 remained fifth hottest year on record

  • It is the clearest indication of global heating as global temperatures continue to remain unnaturally high, year after year.
  • In 2021, while the global ocean heated up to frightening levels, the Earth surpassed dangerous heat records.

About the report:

  • It was released by the European Union’s (EU) Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S)
  • It establishes a stretch of seven of the hottest years on record, since 2015, with 2016 and 2020 as the hottest

Findings of the report:

  • 2021 was an extremely hot year despite the cooling influence of the La Nina weather phenomenon
  • Global heating remains on a firmly upward trajectory as a result of anthropogenic climate change
  • The past seven years have been the warmest on record since the late 19th century, and average global temperature was 1.1-1.2 degrees Celsius above 1850-1900 levels.
  • The report also notes, while global emissions need to halve by 2030 for the world to keep sight of the 1.5 degrees goal, they are actually rising.
  • Atmospheric CO2 concentrations continued to rise through 2021, reaching 414.3 parts per million (ppm), up by 2.4 ppm from 2020.
  • The report also notes that atmospheric concentrations of methane (CH4), a more potent greenhouse gas, also rose by a record level of 1,876 parts per billion (ppb).
  • This was 801 ppb in 1850

Other reports on Temperature change:

  • According to a World Meteorological Organisation report last year, there’s a 40% chance that by 2025, at least one year is going to be 1.5 degrees Celsius hotter than pre-industrial times.
  • According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published last year, at current levels of carbon emissions, the world is on course to heat up by 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100.
  • This represents a catastrophic level of heating, far above the global goal of keeping temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius by the end of the century.
  • For comparison, in 1992, the year when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was formed, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were 355.9 ppm.
  • In 1850, they were 284.7ppm.
  • UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report in October 2020 noted that the number of climate-related disasters increased from 3,656 (1980-99) to 6,681 (2000-19)
  • The study, published in Advances In Atmospheric Sciences, also found that the upper 2,000m of the ocean absorbed 235 ZJ of energy in 2021.
  • The rate of ocean warming was eight times higher in 1986-2021, as compared to 1958-85.
  • A 2021 study by Indian scientists found that the number of Arabian Sea cyclones has increased by 52% in the past 20 years.

Impact of increased temperature

  • It leads to warmer oceans which initiate supercharging storms like cyclones, accelerating the melting of polar ice sheets, thus increasing the sea level, and destroying marine habitats like coral reefs.
  • For example, sharp increase in the heating of the Indian Ocean has had a direct impact on the frequency and intensity of cyclones making landfall in India

Global Initiatives for temperature rise:

  • Paris Agreement: It was adopted in 2015
  • It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • The agreement also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, through appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework.
  • Montreal Protocol: to phase down highly-potent global warming hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) gases which are the fastest growing climate pollutants
  • 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26): It was held in October,2021

Major initiatives at COP26:

  • Deforestation: leaders at the COP26 global climate conference have pledged to stop deforestation by 2030 to help slow climate change
  • Methane emission reduction: Nearly 90 countries have pledged support to the U.S. and EU-led effort to reduce Methane emission.
  • The Global Methane Pledge, first announced in September, now covers emissions from two-thirds of the global economy.
  • Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) initiative: launched by India for developing the infrastructure of small island nations
  • It is a part of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) initiative.
  • Global Green Grids Initiative One Sun One World One Grid (GGI-OSOWOG): It is an evolution of the International Solar Alliance‘s OSOWOG multilateral drive to foster interconnected solar energy infrastructure at a global scale.

India’s commitments at COP 26

  • Net zero emissions: India will achieve net-zero emissions latest by 2070
  • Renewable energy: India will ensure 50% of its energy will be sourced from renewable sources by 2030. India plans to generate 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030.
  • Carbon emissions: India also committed to reducing its carbon emissions until 2030 by a billion tonnes. By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy to less than 45 per cent.

Way forward

  • Temperature rises must slow down if we want to avoid the worst consequences of climate change
  • According to scientists global warming needs to be kept to 1.5C by 2100
  • More summits like COP26 should be held and countries must firmly act on their commitment to cut down emissions
  • Efforts at individual level also needs to taken to cut down emissions like taking fewer flights, Living car-free or use an electric car, buying energy efficient products, such as washing machines, when they need replacing, etc