When the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the year 2023 will have officially gone on record as the hottest year ever, according to analysis from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
The organization found that this year’s average global temperatures is 1.4° Celsius (2.6° Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial averages—just off the to 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) threshold that scientists during the 2015 Paris climate agreement deemed was the point beyond which humans and ecosystems will struggle to adapt.
Every month since June this year has been the hottest on record as compared to the same month in previous years.
While scientists with the World Weather Attribution initiative have conceded that El Niño—a weakening of trade winds that causes northern U.S. and Canada to be dryer and warmer than usual—has been a factor this year, they state that it’s the burning of fossil fuels that has been the main driver of the rising temperatures.
This week in Dubai, UAE, 150 countries have been taking part in the United Nations’ COP28 climate summit, where discussions about phasing out fossil fuels have been contentious and steeped in controversy.
United Arab Emirates Sultan Al-Jaber is both COP28 president designate and chief executive of the UAE state oil company ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company). Documents leaked ahead of the summit revealed that the UAE planned to discuss fossil fuel deals with 15 nations during the event—despite the United Nations’ directive that hosts of the annual summit act without bias or self-interest—though Al-Jaber denies this.
Meanwhile, a separate report released Tuesday by the World World Meteorological Organization found that 2011-2020 was the hottest decade on record as the rate of climate change “surged alarmingly” and “turbo charged” glacier loss and rising sea levels.
“As long as greenhouse gas concentrations keep rising, we can’t expect different outcomes from those seen this year,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of Copernicus. “The temperature will keep rising and so will the impacts of heatwaves and droughts.”
In 2021 the United Nations reported that weather disasters including drought and extreme storms worldwide have increased sevenfold over the past half-century.