2023 set to be hottest year on record: United Nations

“Record global heat should send shivers down the spines of world leaders.”

November 30, 2023, 7:50 AM

LONDON -- There may still be an entire month to go in 2023 but the United Nations has announced on Thursday that 2023 is set to be the warmest on record.

“While 2023 is not yet over, a provisional report from the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that it is set to be the warmest on record, with global temperatures rising 1.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to a statement from the U.N. released on Thursday.

The world is heating up at an unprecedented pace, according to new climate data, and U.N. chief António Guterres called on leaders who are gathered for the COP28 conference -- which opened in Dubai on Thursday -- to get us out of “deep trouble.”

“We are living through climate collapse in real time – and the impact is devastating,” he warned in a video statement accompanying the launch of the report on the first day of this year’s annual U.N. climate talks.

Guterres said that the race is on to keep alive the 1.5-degree limit agreed by world leaders in Paris in 2015 but that the challenges remain as potent as ever.

According to the new report, the maximum Antarctic Sea ice extent for the year was one million square kilometres less than the previous record low, at the end of southern hemisphere winter.

PHOTO: Firefighters attempt to extinguish a wildfire on burned peatland and fields on Sept. 23, 2023, in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, Indonesia.
Firefighters attempt to extinguish a wildfire on burned peatland and fields on Sept. 23, 2023, in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, Indonesia.
Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Meanwhile, glaciers in western North America and the European Alps also experienced an “extreme melt season.”

“From deadly Cyclone Daniel in Libya in September to devastating floods in the Horn of Africa following five consecutive seasons of drought and severe smoke pollution from Canada’s forest blazes, [the] report highlights the grim effects of climate upheaval on lives, health and livelihoods,” the U.N. said in their statement.

“These are more than just statistics,” said World Meteorological Organization chief Petteri Taalas, as he called for action to “limit the risks of an increasingly inhospitable climate in this and the coming centuries.”

However, the report indicated that carbon dioxide levels are now 50% above the pre-industrial era and that the gas’s long lifetime “means that temperatures will continue to rise for many years to come.”

“Record global heat should send shivers down the spines of world leaders,” Guterres said. “And it should trigger them to act.”

Guterres pointed to the existing roadmap to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and urged governments to set “clear expectations” for the next round of climate action plans and invest in their implementation.

Meanwhile, as the COP 28 conference gets underway, the plan is to do the first-ever “global stocktake” to assess collective progress on cutting emissions and ramping up adaptation efforts and support to developing countries hard hit by a warming climate, according to the U.N.

The UN Secretary-General said that countries must “go further and faster in protecting people from climate chaos.”

This includes ensuring that every person on Earth is covered by early warnings against extreme weather by 2027 and operationalizing a “loss and damage fund” to assist vulnerable hit hard by floods, droughts and other climate disasters with “generous, early contributions” from richer nations, he said.

“Developed countries must honour the promise to deliver $100 billion per year in climate finance, which was first made at COP15 in 2009, and double the amount of funding going towards adaptation efforts,” the U.N. said.

The U.N. climate conference will take place from Thursday until Dec. 12 in Dubai and is the 28th Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which entered into force in 1994. Over 60,000 delegates are expected to attend, including the member states of the UNFCCC, industry leaders, youth activists and representatives of indigenous communities.

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