Early Warnings for All: Protecting Everyone from Extreme Weather
Globally, extreme weather events linked to climate change are estimated to have cost over €130bn per year over the past two decades. This equates to around €15m every hour and is likely to be an underestimation due to a lack of data from lower-income countries.
‘Early Warnings for All’ is a global initiative led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. The initiative aims to ensure everyone on Earth is protected from hazardous weather, water, or climate events by the end of 2027. The WMO have specific responsibility in coordinating the observation, analysis, and forecasting of extreme weather events worldwide.
Similar to Met Éireann’s weather warnings, the Early Warnings for All initiative aims to provide advanced notice of extreme weather events, enabling emergency response teams to mobilise, protect people and property, and avoid catastrophic consequences.
A 2023 report on the global status of multi-hazard early warning systems found that 101 countries now report having an early warning system, representing a doubling of coverage since 2015. While this progress is excellent, it still means that almost half of the world’s countries do not have multi-hazard early warning systems in place, primarily vulnerable regions such as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Eoin Moran, Director of Met Éireann and Second Vice President to the WMO with responsibility for leading the implementation of Early Warnings for All said: “As we witness the growing impacts of extreme weather events around the world, all communities, especially the most vulnerable, must be resilient to the impact of extreme weather, climate, floods and drought. Early warning systems are an essential for saving lives, protecting property, and reducing economic losses”.
More Weather Stations Needed
Observations and data from high-quality weather stations are essential to produce accurate weather forecasts and early warning systems. More weather stations, particularly in data sparse regions of the world such as LDCs and SIDS, are required for potential dangers to be reliably monitored.
There are co-benefits to establishing weather stations in under-represented regions of the world. For example, a weather station which is established for many years also provides accurate monitoring on how the climate in a particular region is changing, and can help improve climate projections for these regions.
Establishing and maintaining the infrastructure required for weather stations and early warning systems can be expensive. The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) is a United Nations financing mechanism which was created provide funding to vulnerable countries to close the weather and climate observation data gap.
Ireland was one of the early supporters of this fund, pledging €4m in 2022 via Irish Aid. Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Minister for Defence Micheál Martin pledged a further increase of €1m in Ireland’s financial contribution to this fund at the COP28 climate conference.
The SOFF mechanism is already making a real difference by helping vulnerable countries build and enhance their weather and climate monitoring infrastructures, and this in turn is helping to realise the ambitions of the Early Warnings for All initiative.
By providing climate finance via SOFF and leading the implementation of the Early Warnings for All initiative, Ireland is protecting lives and livelihoods in least developed and vulnerable countries, while also improving global weather forecasts that will benefit Irish people.