Secretary-General's Message on World Meteorological Day (23 March 2016)

Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise.  So too does the temperature of oceans and land.  Climate change is accelerating at an alarming rate.  The window of opportunity for limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius – the threshold agreed by world governments in Paris in December last year – is narrow and rapidly shrinking.

The effects of a warming planet will be felt by all.  Sea levels are rising, and extreme weather is becoming the new normal.  Heavy rain and floods will put more lives and property at risk.  Longer and harsher droughts will jeopardize food security, increase mortality and destabilize local and global economies.  Changing environmental conditions will increase the spread of many diseases.

Hence the theme of this year’s World Meteorological Day: “Hotter, drier, wetter: face the future”.  The world must act now to transform the global economy for low-emissions growth and to strengthen resilience to the inevitable changes to come, especially in less well-developed countries.

With the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the international community has clearly and unanimously committed to act.  We already have much of the knowledge and many of the tools we need.  But we cannot afford any delay.

Next month, on 22 April, I have invited world leaders to New York to sign the Paris Agreement, which is essential for ensuring its prompt ratification.  But even before the Agreement comes into force, every country, every business and every citizen has a role to play in combating climate change and building a sustainable future for this and future generations.

On this World Meteorological Day, I urge decision-makers and all actors in society to face the future now.  Only by responding decisively to the climate challenge can we avoid the worst impacts of climate change and lay the foundations of a world of peace, prosperity and opportunity for all.