Global Average Temperatures 1.45℃ above Pre-Industrial Levels in 2023: WMO State of The Climate Report

According to the annual WMO State of the Global Climate Report released on Tuesday, 2023 has been confirmed to be the warmest year in the 174-year observational record. (Representational image/AP)

Never have we been so close – albeit on a temporary basis at the moment – to the 1.5°C lower limit of the Paris Agreement on climate change, says WMO secretary-general Prof Celeste Saulo

Even as India stares at another record-breaking summer, a new report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that the global average near-surface temperatures surged to at least 1.45℃ (± 0.12 °C) in 2023 – above the pre-industrial baseline of 1850-1900.

“Never have we been so close – albeit on a temporary basis at the moment – to the 1.5° C lower limit of the Paris Agreement on climate change,” said WMO secretary-general Prof Celeste Saulo. “The WMO community is sounding the Red Alert to the world.”

According to the annual WMO State of the Global Climate Report released on Tuesday, 2023 has been confirmed to be the warmest year in the 174-year observational record. Globally, every month from June to December was record warm for the respective month, with September 2023 warmest-ever by a wide margin of nearly 0.46 to 0.54 °C.

With this, the world has also shattered the record of the previous warmest year of 2016 when temperatures had surged to 1.29℃ (± 0.12 °C) above the 1850-1900 average, and 2020 when it was 1.27℃ (± 0.13 °C). However, on the decadal scale, the ten-year average 2014-2023 global temperature was 1.20 ± 0.12°C above the 1850-1900 average. According to the meteorologists, the warming was mainly due to the increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and was exacerbated by the shift from La Niña to El Niño conditions in the middle of 2023.

The report comes ahead of the Climate Ministerial meeting in Copenhagen on March 21-22, where climate leaders and ministers from around the world will gather for the first time since COP28 concluded with a call to transition away from fossil fuels in Dubai. A crucial agenda on the list will be to urge countries to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) ahead of the February 2025 deadline, as well as to deliver an ambitious agreement on financing at COP29 this year.

The levels of CO2 are 50 % higher than the pre-industrial era, trapping heat in the atmosphere. The long lifetime of CO2 means that temperatures will continue to rise for many years to come.

According to the report, the global average sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) were at a record high too from April onwards, with the records in July, August, and September broken by a particularly wide margin. Ocean heat content reached its highest level in 2023, according to a consolidated analysis of data. The rate of global mean sea level rise in the past ten years (2014-2023) was also more than twice the rate of sea level rise in the first decade of the satellite record (1993-2002).

The report also drew attention to the wide financial gap in climate action. Adaptation finance continues to be insufficient, falling well short of the estimated USD 212 billion per year needed up to 2030 in developing countries alone.

In 2021-2022, global climate-related finance flows reached almost USD 1.3 trillion, nearly doubling compared to 2019-2020 levels. In an average scenario, for a 1.5°C pathway, annual climate finance investments need to grow by more than six times, reaching almost USD 9 trillion by 2030 and a further USD 10 trillion through 2050. The tracked climate finance flows represent only approximately 1% of global GDP, according to the Climate Policy Initiative.

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