The world is set to reach its highest annual average temperature in 2023 since records began, scientists have warned in advance of the COP28 climate talks.
“We can say with near certainty that 2023 will be the warmest year on record, and is currently 1.43°C above the pre-industrial average,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus Climate Change Service. “The sense of urgency for ambitious climate action going into COP28 has never been higher.”
The EU agency said that global average air temperatures in October 2023 were 0.4°C warmer than the previous high of October 2019. The rise in global temperatures was described as a result of increasing carbon emissions and an El Niño weather event.
October also marked the fifth month in a row of record warmth.
“The 2023 numbers on air temperatures, sea temperatures, sea ice and the rest look like something out of a Hollywood movie,” said David Reay, a climate scientist at the University of Edinburgh. “If our current global efforts to tackle climate change were a film it would be called Hot Mess.”
The data released by Copernicus is collated from the measurement of satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world. Current measurements predict that 2023 is extremely likely to surpass 2016 – currently the warmest year ever recorded.
The UN report released ahead of COP28 called on governments to address the situation, and criticised increased investments in fossil fuels. The report found that global coal production is expected to continue rising until 2030, while oil and gas production could rise until at least 2050.
“Governments are literally doubling down on fossil fuel production – that spells double trouble for people and planet,” said UN secretary-general António Guterres.
The increase in average global temperatures makes it more and more unlikely that the world will be able to meet the goals set in the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, in which leaders promised to try to stop the planet heating by 1.5ºC by the end of the century.
Current estimates say the Earth’s temperature is set to increase by about 2.4ºC.
“The fact that we’re seeing this record hot year means record human suffering,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London. “Within this year, extreme heatwaves and droughts made much worse by these extreme temperatures have caused thousands of deaths, [with] people losing their livelihoods [and] being displaced. These are the records that matter.
“That is why the Paris Agreement is a human rights treaty, and not keeping to the goals in it is violating human rights on a vast scale.”