World

2017 set to be third warmest on record

BONN — While diplomats and activists gathered in Bonn on Monday for two weeks on implementing the Paris climate accord, the UN weather agency said 2017 is set to become the third hottest year on record.

The World Meteorological Organization said the year is expected to be one of the three hottest years of all time, after 2015 and 2016, each of which were affected by powerful El Nino, an ocean warming phenomenon that can contribute to higher temperatures.

The WMO says key indicators of climate change — such as rising carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, rising sea levels, and the acidification of oceans — continued unabated this year.

Advertisement

Fiji’s prime minister called for a sense of urgency in the fight against global warming, telling negotiators Monday that ‘‘we must not fail our people,’’ as he opened the conference on combating climate change, which is already affecting his Pacific island nation.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The talks in Germany are the first major global climate conference since President Trump announced that the United States will pull out of the 2015 Paris accord unless he can secure a better deal, and the first time that a small island nation is chairing such a conference.

Negotiators will focus on thrashing out some of the technical details of the Paris accord, which aims to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees. While Trump has expressed skepticism, a recent US government report concluded there is strong evidence that manmade climate change is taking place.

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, the Bonn conference’s chairman, offered greetings ‘‘from one of the most climate-vulnerable regions on earth,’’ underlining ‘‘our collective plea for the world to maintain the course we set in Paris.’’

‘‘The need for urgency is obvious,’’ he said. ‘‘Our world is in distress from the extreme weather events caused by climate change.’’

Advertisement

‘‘We must not fail our people’’ and must make the Paris accord work, Bainimarama said, adding that means to ‘‘meet our commitments in full, not back away from them.’’

He didn’t refer directly to the Trump administration’s position, but appeared to play off Trump’s ‘‘America first’’ slogan.

‘‘The only way for every nation to put itself first is to lock arms with all other nations and move forward together,’’ the Fijian leader declared.

In a brief statement toward the end of the opening session Monday, a senior US diplomat told delegates that Washington’s position hadn’t changed since Trump’s announcement in June.

But Trigg Talley, the US deputy special envoy for climate change, said the United States will ‘‘continue to participate in international climate change negotiations and meetings, including ongoing negotiations related to guidance for implementing the Paris agreement.’’

Advertisement

The meeting began with schoolchildren chanting ‘‘Save the World’’ processing into the conference hall and a traditional Fijian welcoming ceremony.

The World Meteorological Organization said the global mean temperature from January to September this year was about a one degree warmer than the 1981-2010 average, which was estimated to be 57.7 degrees.

The five-year average temperature from 2013 to 2017 is about 2 degrees higher than that during the preindustrial period.

Participants at the Bonn conference include diplomats from 195 nations, as well as scientists, lobbyists, and environmentalists.