(CN) — Globally, the world saw its hottest October ever recorded, making it almost certain this year will become the warmest ever measured, the European Union's climate change agency said Wednesday.
The new report from the Copernicus Climate Change Service came as a call to action ahead of a yearly United Nations summit on global warming. This year's summit, known as COP28, starts at the end of the month in the United Arab Emirates. At these conferences, governments make pledges to tackle climate change.
Copernicus said the average global surface air temperature in October came in at 15.30 degrees Celsius (59.54 degrees Fahrenheit), or 0.85 C (1.53 F) above the average temperature for October between 1991 and 2020.
“October 2023 has seen exceptional temperature anomalies, following on from four months of global temperature records being obliterated,” said Samantha Burgess, the deputy director at Copernicus. “We can say with near certainty that 2023 will be the warmest year on record.”
Scientists say this year's record-breaking heat can be explained by the warming of the atmosphere caused by carbon emissions and the return of the natural weather phenomenon El Niño, which generally brings hotter temperatures and unpredictable weather.
“The sizzling October 2023 is another unfortunate example that shows how temperature records are getting shattered by a humongous margin,” said Akshay Deoras, a scientist at Britain's National Centre for Atmospheric Science. “Global warming due to increased greenhouse gas emissions and El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean are hitting the planet really hard.”
He added that it “won’t be surprising to see new records in subsequent months.”
The average temperature globally stands at 1.43 C (2.57 F) above what scientists calculate was the average temperature in the pre-industrial age. That makes this year the warmest on record so far, though only 0.10 C (0.18 F) higher than 2016, the warmest year on the books, Copernicus said. The agency uses the period 1850-1900 to calculate average temperatures in the pre-industrial age.
The 2015 Paris climate agreement set 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels as a global threshold in atmospheric warming and scientists warn that exceeding that point for long periods will make the planet drastically and dangerously different. Under the Paris agreement, governments pledged to reduce carbon emissions in order to keep the planet's temperature below that threshold.
In Dubai, world leaders, scientists, advocates and business leaders will meet for the 28th climate summit since the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where governments first agreed to tackle climate change.
“The sense of urgency for ambitious climate action going into COP28 has never been higher,” Burgess said.
Friederike Otto, a climate science lecturer at Imperial College London, said this year's record heat must also be seen as causing “record human suffering.”
“Within this year, extreme heat waves and droughts made much worse by these extreme temperatures have caused thousands of deaths, people losing their livelihoods, being displaced,” she said. “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.”
Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau is based in the European Union.Follow @cainburdeau
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