The UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has declared 2023 as the hottest year on record, urging immediate global intervention to combat the escalating climate crisis.
The provisional 2023 State of the Global Climate report, released amidst the UN COP28 climate conference in Dubai, highlighted unprecedented extremes, leaving behind a trail of devastation and despair.
“It’s a deafening cacophony of broken records,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.
“Greenhouse gas levels are record high. Global temperatures are record high. Sea level rise is record high. Antarctic sea ice is record low.”
UN Chief Antonio Guterres emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating that the record heat findings “should send shivers down the spines of world leaders.”
The WMO report disclosed that 2023, up to October, had already surpassed the pre-industrial baseline by approximately 1.4 degrees Celsius.
Despite the 2015 Paris climate accords’ goal to limit warming well below two degrees Celsius, the WMO warned that the world is on a trajectory deviating from this target. The report revealed that the past nine years consecutively ranked as the hottest since modern records began.
“These are more than just statistics,” Taalas said, warning that “we risk losing the race to save our glaciers and to rein in sea level rise”.
“We cannot return to the climate of the 20th century, but we must act now to limit the risks of an increasingly inhospitable climate in this and the coming centuries.”
Adding to concerns, the report noted the emergence of the El Nino weather phenomenon in 2023, likely intensifying heat levels in 2024.
The concentration of major greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—reached record highs in 2022, with indications that these levels continued to rise in 2023.
Carbon dioxide levels, particularly alarming, were reported to be 50 percent higher than the pre-industrial era, ensuring sustained temperature increases even with drastic emission cuts.
The rate of sea level rise over the past decade exceeded twice the rate from 1993 to 2002, while Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest recorded level this year.
The WMO also highlighted extreme environmental impacts, including a significant loss of ice volume in North American and European glaciers, particularly in Swiss glaciers, which saw a 10 percent reduction in the past two years alone.
Experts emphasize that these alarming climate records contribute to severe socio-economic consequences, such as compromised food security and widespread displacement.
“This year we have seen communities around the world pounded by fires, floods and searing temperatures,” UN chief Guterres said in a video message.
He urged leaders assembled in Dubai to embrace significant actions to address climate change, advocating for measures such as the gradual elimination of fossil fuels and a threefold increase in renewable energy capacity.
“We have the roadmap to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5C and avoid the worst of climate chaos,” he said.
“But we need leaders to fire the starting gun at COP28 on a race to keep the 1.5 degree limit alive.”