30th November 2023 – (United Nations) The United Nations (UN) declared 2023 to be the warmest year ever documented, according to data available up until October. The announcement on Thursday made by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a UN agency, came as world leaders gathered for the commencement of the COP28 summit in Dubai. The UN has called for immediate measures to control global warming in light of the escalating climate crisis.
The WMO disclosed that 2023 had not only broken but significantly surpassed multiple climate records, with extreme weather incidents resulting in widespread destruction. “It’s a deafening cacophony of broken records,” stated WMO’s Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas.
Taalas highlighted the alarming figures, “Greenhouse gas levels are record high. Global temperatures are record-high. Sea level rise is record high. Antarctic sea ice is record low.” This data was released as part of the WMO’s preliminary 2023 State of the Global Climate report, coinciding with the ongoing UN Cop28 climate conference, which is under increasing pressure to address the escalating greenhouse gas emissions heating our planet.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, described the record heat findings as a wake-up call that “should send shivers down the spines of world leaders”. Scientists have continually warned that the window of opportunity for restricting global warming to manageable levels is rapidly closing.
The 2015 Paris climate agreement set a goal to contain global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, ideally limiting it to 1.5C. However, data from 2023 indicates that this year’s average temperature was already approximately 1.4C above the pre-industrial baseline, according to the WMO report.
The final version of the State of the Global Climate 2023 report from the agency is expected to be published in the first half of 2024. However, the WMO declared that the temperature difference between the first ten months of 2023 and 2016 and 2020 — the previous highest-ranking years — is significant enough that the data from the final two months is unlikely to affect this year’s ranking.
Furthermore, the report exhibited that the previous nine years have been the warmest since the inception of modern records. Taalas warned that these figures are not just statistics, cautioning, “we risk losing the race to save our glaciers and to rein in sea level rise”.
He concluded with a stark warning, “We cannot return to the climate of the 20th century, but we must act now to limit the risks of an increasingly inhospitable climate in this and the coming centuries.”