The hydropower capacity will decrease

Dr Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the WMO and speaker at the Smart Suisse Conference 2023, on global warming and the impact on renewable energy sources.

The World Meteorological Organisation, WMO for short, is a WHO organisation based in Geneva. It provides meteorological and related services and promotes worldwide cooperation for the establishment and networking of meteorological, hydrological and geophysical observation stations. The WMO is financed by the voluntary contributions of the 193 member countries and private donations. The WMO co-initiated the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and conducts intensive research on the parameters and consequences of global climate change.

Prof. Dr Petteri Taalas has been Secretary General of the organisation since 2016 and will speak at the Smart Suisse Conference on March 29.


Dear Prof. Taalas, you’ve been one of the participants of COP 27 – what agenda did you travel there with?

The WMO had two major initiatives for the COP. First: early warning services (EWSs) for all. At the moment only 50 percent of the 193 Members of WMO have proper EWSs in place and, there are major gaps in basic weather observing systems in Africa and Island States. WMO with UN and financing partners has set up a 3.1 billion dollar program for 2023-27 to reach 100 percent coverage.

Second: new ways of monitoring the cycles of CO2, CH4 and NO2 using ground-based, satellite and modelling data to follow the behaviour (sources and sinks) of those gases.


Did the COP27 conference meet your expectations? What are the key results from your point of view?

We received strong support for both initiatives, and will begin implementation soon. COP27 was very much an adaptation meeting, our EWS program was one of the key outcomes.

What does climate change mean for the future availability of renewable energy sources, i.e. sun, wind and water?

The main negative change will be reduction of hydropower capacity due to melting of glaciers and changes of rainfall patterns. There are some changes in local wind conditions – stagnant high pressure systems will lower the production capacity occasionally, but low pressure systems will have an opposite impact. Warming of climate and waters will challenge the cooling needed for nuclear and fossil power plants.


Climate protection is often perceived as a restriction – how can the measures against climate change be communicated positively?

In general minor changes in our everyday life are needed for successful climate mitigation. This concerns energy production, transport, industries and diet – for example. Many of those embed health impacts (less meat containing diets, electric bikes instead of cars) or are economically attractive (cooling/warming of houses with heat pumps and better insulation, driving electric cars instead of fossil ones). Media often exaggerates means needed for successful mitigation.


You observe that warming in Europe is proceeding much faster than in a global comparison. Why is that?

The continents have faced warming and climate change, which is 1.5 times the global average. Two regions have faced globally the largest changes: Arctic and the Mediterranean Region. Both impacts are seen in Europe as higher temperature changes and drought in the Mediterranean.


And what scenarios result from this?

Those changes will continue intensifying until the 2060’s – independent of our success in mitigation. If success is reached, the negative trend will cease. Due to already high concentration of CO2 the melting of glaciers and sea level rise will continue for the coming centuries anyhow, will threaten availability of water to several rivers worldwide and will pose a treat for several coastal cities and states.



Dr Petteri Taalas received his PhD in meteorology from the University of Helsinki in 1993 and completed management studies at the Helsinki School of Economics (HKKK). From 2002 to 2005 and 2007 to 2015, he headed the Meteorological Institute of Finland. Taalas has been a member of the WMO Executive Council since 2008 and Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Geneva since 2016.



Fotocredit: WMO