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Monday May 27, 2024

2023 hottest recorded year as Earth nears key limit

Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years

By AFP
January 10, 2024
A woman shields herself from the sun with an umbrella during a heatwave in Tucson, Arizona, on July 15, 2023. — AFP
A woman shields herself from the sun with an umbrella during a heatwave in Tucson, Arizona, on July 15, 2023. — AFP

PARIS: The year of 2023 was the hottest on record, with the increase in Earth´s surface temperature nearly crossing the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius, EU climate monitors said on Tuesday.

Climate change intensified heatwaves, droughts and wildfires across the planet, and pushed the global thermometer 1.48 C above the preindustrial benchmark, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reported.

“It is also the first year with all days over one degree warmer than the pre-industrial period,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy head of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

“Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years.”

Nearly half the year exceeded the 1.5C limit, beyond which climate impacts are more likely to become self-reinforcing and catastrophic, according to scientists.

But even if Earth´s average surface temperature breaches 1.5C in 2024, as some scientists predict, it does not mean the world has failed to meet the Paris Agreement target of capping global warming under that threshold.

That would occur only after several successive years above the 1.5C benchmark, and even then the 2015 treaty allows for the possibility of reducing Earth´s temperature after a period of “overshoot”.

2023 saw massive fires in Canada, extreme droughts in the Horn of Africa or the Middle East, unprecedented summer heatwaves in Europe, the United States and China, along with record winter warmth in Australia and South America.