The UN weather agency said Thursday that 2023 is almost certain to be the hottest year on record and warned of worrying trends that suggest increasing floods, wildfires, melting glaciers and heat waves in the future.
The World Meteorological Organization also warned that average temperature for the year has risen about 1.4 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial timesjust a tenth of a degree below the target limit for the end of the century established by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The WMO Secretary-General said that the appearance earlier this year of El Niño, the weather phenomenon characterized by the warming of the Pacific Ocean, could tip the average temperature next year above the target limit of 1.5 degrees (2 .7 degrees Fahrenheit) established in Paris.
“It is practically certain that in the next four years we will reach this 1.5, at least temporarily”, said Petteri Taalas in an interview. “And in the next decade we will be more or less there permanently.”
The WMO released findings for Thursday’s start of the annual UN climate conference, which will be held this year in the oil-rich city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
The UN agency said the benchmark for the key goal of the Paris agreement will be whether the 1.5 degree rise is sustained over a 30-year period – not just one year – but others say the world needs more. clarity about it.
“Clarity on violating the barriers of the Paris agreement will be crucial,” said Richard Betts of Britain’s Met Office, lead author of a new paper on the topic with the University of Exeter published in the journal Nature.
“Without agreement on what will actually be considered exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius, we risk distraction and confusion precisely at the time when taking action to avoid the worst effects of climate change becomes even more urgent,” he added.
WMO’s Taalas said whatever the case, the world appears to be on track to surpass that figure anyway.
“We are heading towards 2.5 to 3 degrees warming and that would mean we would see enormously more negative impacts of climate change”Taalas said, pointing to the loss of glaciers and rising sea levels in “the next few thousand years.”
The nine years between 2015 and 2023 were the warmest ever recorded, stated the WMO. His findings for this year extend through October, but he says the last two months are likely not enough to prevent 2023 from being a record year.
Still, there are “some signs of hope,” including a shift toward renewable energy and more electric cars, which help reduce the amount of carbon put into the atmosphere by trapping heat inside,” Taalas said.
His message to attendees of the UN climate conference, known as COP28?
“We have to drastically reduce our consumption of coal, oil and natural gas in order to limit warming to the Paris limits,” he said. “Luckily things are happening. But still, in Western countries, in rich countries, we continue to consume oil, a little less coal than in the past and still natural gas.”
“Reducing fossil fuel consumption is the key to success.”
(with information from AP)