‘Extraordinary’ November becomes sixth record-breaking month in a row, says Europe’s climate watch
This year will be the hottest on record after an “exceptional” November became the sixth record month in a row, Europe’s climate watchdog said on Wednesday, piling pressure on the COP28 talks for action on climate change.
Last month broke the previous November heat record, pushing the 2023 global average temperature to 1.46 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Agency said.
There were warnings this year that it could take the title of hottest year since 2016 – particularly after records were broken in September and October – but this is the first time it has been confirmed.
November also contained two days that were 2C warmer than pre-industrial levels. Never before had such a day been recorded.
Samantha Burgess, deputy head of the Copernicus agency, said 2023 “now has six record-breaking months and two record-breaking seasons”.
“November’s exceptional global temperatures, including two days warmer than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial (levels), mean that 2023 is the warmest year on record,” he said.
Scientists say data from ice cores, tree rings and the like suggest this year could be the warmest in more than 100,000 years.
Phase out or phase out?
The record announcement comes as negotiators from nearly 200 countries at the COP28 talks in Dubai debate the text of a final draft deal that meets a damning account of progress on curbing warming.
A critical aspect of this is the fate of oil, natural gas and coal – the main drivers of human-induced planetary warming.
The battle lines in the talks in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates have previously been drawn over whether to agree to “phase out” or “phase out” of fossil fuels.
But a new phrase pledging an “orderly and fair” phase-out of fossil fuels could signal a prospective consensus, giving countries different timetables for reducing emissions depending on their level of development and dependence on hydrocarbons.
But there is another option: no mention of fossil fuels, reflecting opposition from countries such as Saudi Arabia and China, according to several observers who attended the closed-door meetings.
Another draft paragraph urging a “rapid exit from unabated coal power this decade” also faced opposition from China, South Africa and Vietnam, observers said.
A new version of the draft text is expected on Wednesday morning, which will then be considered at the talks, which are due to conclude on December 12.
“The temperature will continue to rise”
Meanwhile, 2023 has seen a series of catastrophic extreme weather events linked to climate change, even as the world’s carbon emissions continue to rise.
According to Copernicus, whose records date back to 1940, the first 11 months of this year were 0.13C warmer than 2016, the previous warmest year.
Global temperatures in the second half of this year are believed to have been driven in part by the El Nino weather pattern, which has caused fewer “anomalies” so far in 2023 than in 2015-2016, the Copernicus service said.
September to November, the three months that mark autumn in the northern hemisphere, were the warmest ever “by a wide margin”, according to Copernicus.
November alone was 1.75C warmer than pre-industrial levels – and marked a significant increase of 0.85C over the period 1991-2020, Copernicus said.
Such numbers could suggest the world is getting uncomfortably close to 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming since pre-industrial times, a key limit in the Paris climate agreement.
However, to breach the Paris limit, global temperatures would need to remain above 1.5C for decades.
“As long as greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise, we cannot expect different results,” said Copernicus head Carlo Buontempo.
“The temperature will continue to rise and so will the effects of heatwaves and droughts,” he added.
Also on Wednesday, researchers warned of 26 Earth “tipping points,” such as melting ice sheets, that have the potential to unleash a domino effect of irreversible disasters across the planet.
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