2023: According to the European Union’s climate agency, last year marked the hottest on record for the planet, surpassing previous records by a significant margin. It is also highly likely to be the warmest year in the past 100,000 years.
Leading up to this milestone, climate records had been consistently broken throughout the year, establishing each month as the hottest compared to previous years.
The director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), Carlo Buontempo, described this year as exceptionally warm, surpassing even other very warm years.
C3S has confirmed that 2023 is now the hottest year in global temperature records dating back to 1850.
When compared to palaeoclimatic data from sources like tree rings and air bubbles in glaciers, Buontempo stated that it is highly likely to be the warmest year in the past 100,000 years.
In 2023, the average global temperature was 1.48 degrees Celsius (2.66 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900, when humans started burning fossil fuels on a large scale and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
As part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries committed to preventing global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid the most severe consequences.
While the world has not yet surpassed this target, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reported that temperatures had exceeded the 1.5-degree mark on almost half of the days in 2023, setting a concerning precedent.
Furthermore, this month is projected to be so warm that it will be the first time in history that a 12-month period surpasses the 1.5-degree threshold, according to Samantha Burgess, the Deputy Director of C3S.
Burgess emphasized the importance of maintaining the 1.5-degree goal, as it directly impacts the lives of future generations. The choices we make today will have consequences for our children and grandchildren, making it crucial to prioritize their well-being.
Record-breaking CO2 Emissions and Soaring Temperatures in 2023
Despite the numerous climate targets set by governments and companies, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue to persist at alarmingly high levels. In 2023, the world witnessed record-breaking CO2 emissions resulting from the burning of coal, oil, and gas.
Furthermore, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached an all-time high of 419 parts per million, as reported by C3S. This marked the first year where each day surpassed temperatures that were 1C (1.8F) hotter than pre-industrial times.
Notably, two days in November were even 2C (3.6F) warmer than the pre-industrial era, according to C3S.
In comparison to the previous hottest year, 2016, 2023 was 0.17C (0.31F) hotter, setting a new record by a significant margin. This remarkable increase in temperature, as highlighted by Buontempo, emphasizes the urgency of addressing climate change.
In addition to human-induced climate change, the El Nino weather phenomenon played a role in elevating temperatures in 2023. El Nino warms the surface waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean, contributing to higher global temperatures.
Each incremental rise in temperature exacerbates the occurrence of extreme and destructive weather events. In 2023, the planet’s heightened temperature intensified deadly heatwaves across regions like China and Europe.
It also led to extreme rainfall, resulting in devastating floods that claimed thousands of lives in Libya. Moreover, Canada experienced its worst wildfire season on record.
These alarming events serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the devastating impacts on our planet and its inhabitants.