2023 – A historic climatic year, as WMO Secretary-General Taalas successfully completes his mandate


Professor Petteri Taalas is completing his eight-year mandate as Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization – a period which coincided with accelerating climate change impacts and more extreme weather, highlighting a growing need for better weather and climate services and early warnings.

Prof. Taalas was at the helm of WMO for the warmest eight-year period in recorded history.

He became WMO Secretary-General in 2016, which was the warmest year on record at the time, because of a combination of climate change and very strong El Niño conditions. He concludes his mandate in the knowledge that 2023 will break that temperature record and make climate history for all the wrong reasons as the climate continues to warm.

“The expertise and services of WMO and the scientific community have never been more necessary to tackle climate change, which is represents humanity’s biggest challenge,” says Prof. Taalas.

“I leave WMO with a request to world leaders. Please pay attention to the scientific evidence and listen to the United Nations which is committed to promoting the welfare of citizens worldwide. We are proud of our mandate but we need your support to succeed,” he says.

“The agreement at COP28 in Dubai is historic in that – for the first time – it recognizes the need to transition away from fossil fuels. This is an important step in the right direction but not the final goal. We urgently need to reduce our production and consumption of fossil fuels and speed up the transition to renewable energy. Time is running out,” said Prof. Taalas.

Prof. Celeste Saulo of Argentina succeeds Prof. Taalas, who will resume his position as Director-General of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.