2023 declared hottest year on record as UN slams climate inaction

The temperature record was confirmed as a UN official condemned ‘posturing’ at COP28 climate summit.

thermometer reading
November 2023 was the sixth temperature record-breaking month in a row [File: John Locher/AP Photo]

Europe’s climate monitor has declared that 2023 will be the hottest year on record, as a United Nations official used the COP28 climate summit to slam inaction.

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) confirmed on Wednesday that the current year will be the “warmest” globally since records began in the middle of the 19th century. Before this, 2016 took the top spot.

C3S said it was practically impossible for the trend to change before the end of December after November became the sixth record-breaking month in a row.

“The extraordinary global November temperatures, including two days warmer than 2C [3.6F] above pre-industrial (levels), mean that 2023 is the warmest year in recorded history,” Samantha Burgess, deputy head of C3S, said in a statement.

Last month smashed the previous November heat record, pushing 2023’s global average temperature to 1.46 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the pre-industrial era, the service said. No day with temperatures more than 2C above pre-industrial levels had ever before been recorded.

It had previously been assumed that 2023 would set a record for global average temperatures.

In mid-November, the US climate agency NOAA said there was a 99 percent probability that the year would be the warmest since 1850. However, none of the relevant institutions had yet fully committed to the record.



At the COP28 in Dubai, UN climate chief Simon Stiell accused nations of “posturing”, and said negotiators should aim high and agree on a way to end the “fossil fuel era as we know it”.

A global climate agreement will ideally be finalised on December 12, the last day of the summit, but the latest draft text is “probably” expected on Wednesday, sources told the AFP news agency.

The fate of oil, gas and coal – the main drivers of human-caused climate change – has been the biggest sticking point on the agenda, and divisions around their future have dominated the conference.

“We have a starting text on the table, but it’s a grab bag of … wish lists and heavy on posturing,” Stiell told reporters. “At the end of next week, we need COP to deliver a bullet train to speed up climate action. We currently have an old caboose chugging over rickety tracks.”

The new draft of the negotiated text will be brought to a large plenary meeting taking stock of the first week of talks before a rest day on Thursday, sources told AFP.

Battle lines have previously been drawn on whether to agree to “phase out” or “phase down” fossil fuels.

Phasing out fossil fuels and scaling up renewable energy is seen as crucial to the world’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C compared with pre-industrial levels.

However, climate experts have warned that the Paris deal’s 1.5C threshold could be breached within seven years if emissions are not slashed.

C3S head Carlo Buontempo said, “As long as greenhouse gas concentrations keep rising, we can’t expect different outcomes.”

“The temperature will keep rising and so will the impacts of heatwaves and droughts.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies