Paris Agreement limit almost breached as global temperatures recorded at 1.4°C increase

Placards at a climate protest that read 'There's no Planet B' and 'Climate Emergency'
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Global average temperatures from January to September were 1.4°C higher than pre-industrial times. This means that the planet has almost breached the 1.5°C warming goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The news was announced by the EU climate monitor, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), on Thursday 5 October.

Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said this year has:

the dubious honour of first place – on track to be the warmest year and around 1.4C above pre-industrial average temperatures

Global temperatures: smashing records

According to C3S, last month was the hottest September on record by an “extraordinary” margin.

Much of the world endured unseasonably warm weather in September. This was in a year expected to be the hottest in human history, and after the warmest-ever global temperatures during the Northern Hemisphere summer.

September’s average surface air temperature was 0.93°C above the 1991-2020 average for the month, the C3S said in a report. At 16.38°C, it was also 0.5°C above the previous 2020 record.

Temperature records are normally broken by much smaller margins, closer to one-tenth of a degree.

Read on...

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Europe experienced its hottest September on record, at 2.51°C higher than the 1991-2020 average, with many countries smashing national temperature records for the month.

C3S director Carlo Buontempo told Agence France-Presse (AFP):

We’ve been through the most incredible September ever from a climate point of view. It’s just beyond belief…

Climate change is not something that will happen 10 years from now. Climate change is here.

Warming seas

The El Nino phenomenon is likely to see 2023 becoming the hottest year on record in the next three months. El Nino warms waters in the southern Pacific and stokes hotter weather beyond.

Scientists expect the worst effects of the current El Nino to be felt at the end of 2023 and into next year. Although El Nino played a role in the warming, “there’s no doubt that climate change has made it much worse”, according to Buontempo.

The average sea surface temperature for the month – excluding the polar regions – also reached all-time highs for September, at 20.92°C. Scientists say warmer sea surface temperatures driven by climate change are making extreme weather events more intense. In September, Storm Daniel sparked devastating floods in Libya and Greece.

Antarctic sea ice remained at a record low level for the time of year. Meanwhile, monthly Arctic sea ice was 18% below average.

Oceans have absorbed 90% of the excess heat produced by human activity since the dawn of the industrial age, according to scientists. Warmer oceans are also less capable of absorbing carbon dioxide. This exacerbates the vicious cycle of global warming, and disrupts fragile ecosystems.

‘Sense of urgency’

The 1.5°C threshold was the more ambitious target of the Paris Agreement. It is seen as essential in order to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

World leaders will gather in Dubai from 30 November for the COP28 climate talks. Finding a consensus on slashing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change, financing for adaptation and mitigation, and boosting renewable energy will be key negotiating topics.

Burgess, of C3S, said:

Two months out from COP28 – the sense of urgency for ambitious climate action has never been more critical.

However, as the Canary’s Hannah Sharland has previously detailed, the outlook of COP28 doesn’t seem positive. COP28 president sultan Al Jaber is also head of the United Arab Emirates’ state fossil fuel company, ADNOC. Sharland reported that ADNOC is set to:

spend more than $1bn each month on oil and gas. This will send its fossil fuel investment for 2023-2030 soaring past $100bn.

Put another way, the UAE state oil company will plough over 22-times more funding into fossil fuels by 2030 than the country plans to offer Africa to aid its shift to green technologies.

Featured image via Flickr/ John Englart

Additional reporting via AFP

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