Home NewsInternational ‘UN Global Climate Report confirms 2023 warmest year on record’ 

‘UN Global Climate Report confirms 2023 warmest year on record’ 

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) State of the Global Climate 2023 report has confirmed that 2023 was the warmest year ever on record.

The WMO, a United Nations Weather agency, noted that the records for greenhouse gas levels, surface temperatures, ocean heat and acidification, sea level rise, ice cover and glacier retreat were broken in 2023.

The new global report was issued by the UN on Tuesday.

In a video message for the launch, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Sirens are blaring across all major indicators… Some records aren’t just chart-topping, they’re chart-busting. And changes are speeding up.”

Based on data from multiple agencies, the study confirmed that 2023 was the warmest year on record, with the global average near-surface temperature at 1.45°C above the pre-industrial baseline.

It crowned the warmest ten-year period on record.

In 2015, 195 countries at the UN Conference of Parties 21, pledged to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.50C above pre-industrial levels by 2030.

This agreement, known as the Paris Agreement, was made to significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change in the world.

Climate change is a long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns caused by the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere.

During the presentation of the report to the media in Geneva, the WMO Secretary-General, Celeste Saulo, said, “The scientific knowledge about climate change has existed for more than five decades, and yet we missed an entire generation of opportunity.”

She urged the climate change response to be governed by the “welfare of future generations, but not the short-term economic interests. As Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation, I am now sounding the red alert about the state of the global climate.”

In the WMO, experts explained that climate change is about much more than air temperatures, adding that the unprecedented ocean warmth and sea level rise, glacier retreat and Antarctic Sea ice loss, are also part of the grim picture.

The statement further read, “On an average day in 2023, nearly one-third of the ocean surface was gripped by a marine heat wave, harming vital ecosystems and food systems, the report found.

“The glaciers observed suffered the largest loss of ice on record – since 1950 – with extreme melt in both western North America and Europe, according to preliminary data.

“Alpine ice caps experienced an extreme melting season, for instance, with those in Switzerland losing around 10 per cent of their remaining volume in the past two years.

“The Antarctic Sea ice loss was by far the lowest on record – at one million square kilometres below the previous record year – equivalent to the size of France and Germany combined.

“Observed concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – reached record levels in 2022 and continued increase in 2023, preliminary data shows.”

The report also noted that the weather and climate extremities are either the root cause or serious aggravating factors that in 2023, triggered displacement, food insecurity, biodiversity loss and health issues, among others.

For example, the report noted that acute food insecurity worldwide doubled from 149 million before the COVID-19 pandemic to 333 million in 2023, in 78 countries monitored by the World Food Programme.

“The climate crisis is the defining challenge that humanity faces. It is closely intertwined with the inequality crisis – as witnessed by growing food insecurity, population displacement, and biodiversity loss,” Saulo added.

The WMO report also stated that despite the gloomy record in 2023, renewable capacity additions soared by almost 50 per cent, totalling 510 gigawatts, representing the highest rate observed in two decades.

It added that the surge in renewable energy generation, primarily fuelled by solar radiation, wind, and the water cycle, has positioned it as a leading force in climate action for achieving decarbonisation goals.

The reported further stated that effective multi-hazard early warning systems are crucial for mitigating the impact of disasters, adding that the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, created an increase in the development and implementation of local disaster risk reduction strategies.

“To achieve the objectives of a 1.5°C pathway, annual climate finance investments must increase more than sixfold, reaching almost $9 trillion by 2030, with an additional $10 trillion needed by 2050.

“The cost of inaction is staggering, the report warns. Between 2025 and 2100, it may reach $1,266 trillion, representing the difference in losses between a business-as-usual scenario and a 1.5° C pathway. Noting that this figure is likely a significant underestimate, the UN weather experts call for immediate climate action,” the statement read.

The report was launched ahead of the Copenhagen Climate Ministerial meeting, where climate leaders and ministers from around the world will gather for the first time since COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to push for accelerated climate action, including delivering an ambitious agreement on financing at COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan later in the year.

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