European scientists officially confirmed Tuesday that 2023 was the hottest year on record, surpassing 2016 by a huge margin as greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels continue to drive global temperatures to terrifying new highs.
The conclusion from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service was hardly unexpected given the unparalleled heatwaves that gripped large swaths of the planet last year, ushering in what the head of the United Nations called “the era of global boiling.”
Last year’s global average temperature was 14.98°C, 0.17°C warmer than 2016, 0.60°C warmer than the 1991-2020 average, and 1.48°C warmer than the 1850-1900 pre-industrial level, according to Copernicus.
“2023 was an exceptional year with climate records tumbling like dominoes,” said Copernicus deputy director Samantha Burgess. “Not only is 2023 the warmest year on record, it is also the first year with all days over 1°C warmer than the pre-industrial period. Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years.”
🚨 Last year was the hottest in our recorded observations.— Zack Labe (@ZLabe) January 9, 2024
We know why this is happening. In fact, we've known for decades. We also know that the impacts to people & ecosystems around the world will continue to worsen if the warming continues.
More info https://t.co/cY46RS7lqp pic.twitter.com/IPGqVpjy8C
Liz Bentley, chief executive of the U.K.’s Royal Meteorological Society toldCNN on Tuesday that after last year’s record-shattering summer, scientists predicted that global warming would reach around 1.3°C above pre-industrial levels.
That projection, Bentley said, has been “annihilated” by the new Copernicus data, which shows that planetary warming is perilously close to the Paris accord’s 1.5°C target.
“If you look at climate projections, when we expect to see temperature changes of close to 1.5°C, indeed it has come sooner than many would have expected,” Bentley added. “We’ve definitely seen an acceleration towards that, rather than it being a kind of linear progression. It feels like it’s rising much more exponentially.”
Scientists expect 2024 to be even hotter than last year, raising the stakes for badly lagging global efforts to rein in planet-warming fossil fuel production, which in 2023 hit record levels in the United States — the largest historical contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
“How many more records does it take before we phase out fossil fuels and deal with it?” asked climate campaigner Mike Hudema.
Copernicus director Carlo Buontempo said in a statement Tuesday that “the extremes we have observed over the last few months provide a dramatic testimony of how far we now are from the climate in which our civilization developed.”
“This has profound consequences for the Paris Agreement and all human endeavors,” said Buontempo. “If we want to successfully manage our climate risk portfolio, we need to urgently decarbonize our economy whilst using climate data and knowledge to prepare for the future.”
It takes longer to read this sentence than it does to support our work.
We don’t have much time left to raise the $15,000 needed to meet Truthout‘s basic publishing costs this month. Will you take a few seconds to donate and give us a much-needed boost?
We know you are deeply committed to the issues that matter, and you count on us to bring you trustworthy reporting and comprehensive analysis on the real issues facing our country and the world. And as a nonprofit newsroom supported by reader donations, we’re counting on you too. If you believe in the importance of an independent, free media, please make a tax-deductible donation today!