HAVANA — Extreme weather is wreaking havoc in Latin America, racking up billions in damage and sparking a vicious cycle that leads to higher demand for fossil fuels and more climate change, the World Meteorological Organization said Wednesday.
Temperatures have warmed an average of 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade over the past 30 years, the highest rate on record, according to the State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2022 report.
As temperatures rise, extreme weather events become more common, with often unintended consequences fueling climate change, according to the report.
“Prolonged drought led to a drop in hydroelectric production across much of South America, prompting an increase in demand for fossil fuels in a region with vast untapped potential for renewable energy,” the report says.
Forest fires in swaths of Latin America in 2022, fueled by dry soils and extreme heat, drove carbon dioxide emissions to their highest level in 20 years, raising temperatures and further increasing disaster risk, he noted. The report.
“Many of the extreme events were influenced by long-lasting La Niña, but they also had the hallmarks of human-induced climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“The newly arrived El Niño will increase the temperature and bring with it more extreme weather.”
Drought and storms accounted for most of the $9 billion worth of economic damage reported in 2022 to the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). .
The World Meteorological Institute report comes amid the Convention on Environment and Development held in Havana and organized by the G77 group of developing countries, which includes China.
Cuba’s environment minister, Elba Rosa Pérez, said during the opening session of the convention on Tuesday that the situation has pushed many developing countries to the brink.
“We are facing increasingly strong impacts from climate change, but the decisions adopted in the climate negotiations for the implementation of the Paris Agreement are not advancing at the same pace,” he said.
The 2015 Paris Agreement set a goal of keeping warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but scientists and activists warn more action is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
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