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Wildfires, heatwaves, extreme flooding and global droughts are becoming more common, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. Alamy
Red Alert

Yet another climate agency confirms 2023 to be the World's hottest year

The State of the Global Climate report confirms much of what we already knew.

YET ANOTHER CLIMATE agency report has confirmed that 2023 was the World’s hottest year on record. 

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) – the United Nations’ weather and climate agency – has said that last year was the hottest year on record “by clear margin” and broke record in all aspects of climate change.

WMO boss Celeste Saulo said: “The WMO community is sounding the Red Alert to the world.” He added that “never have we been so close” to breaching the 1.5° C lower limit of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

But, this alert has already been sounded.

Reports conducted in as early as August last year made it almost certain that 2023 would be the hottest year on record. In September, the European Union’s climate monitor gave the world a “wake-up call” after its reports came to the same conclusions.

By December, it was all but confirmed that 2023 would smash all global temperature records.

Today, the WMO’s climate report confirmed what was already known by the first week of January: 2023 was the hottest year ever, by a long shot.

The State of the Global Climate report found that the increased number of heatwaves, flooding incidents, global droughts, worsening wildfires and rapidly-intensifying tropical cyclones caused misery and mayhem.

2023 broke records for ocean heat, with extreme water temperatures witnesses at the North and South poles.

The year also saw the highest rises in sea levels for a 12-month period on record. The rate of sea level increases in the last ten years is more than twice as high as the decade before.

Last year also broke all record for Antarctic sea ice loss and glacier retreat. It is expected that these record will be broken again this year, and beyond, causing an irreversible change on scales of hundreds to thousands of years, according to the report.

Graphs from the United Nations’ Climate agency also show that temperatures got warmer each month – meaning, average temperatures were higher in winter than in spring or summer.

This continuation was already seen when January 2024 was the hottest January ever.

Inaction is costing more than action would

The report says these freak weather events are becoming more common, are “upending every-day life for millions” and causing many billions of euro in economic losses while doing so.

But the WMO’s report also found that inaction to tackle global climate change is actually costing World Governments more than climate action.

Between 2021 and 2022, the global expenditure on climate action nearly doubled when compared to 2019 and 2020 levels, reaching almost €1.2 trillion.

However, the Climate Policy Initiative has said that climate finance flows represent only approximately 1% of global GDP. This large financing gap needs to be closed and funding pledged in 2023 fell well short, according to the WMO’s report published today.

The climate experts said that annual climate finance investments need to grow “by more than six times by 2030 to €8.2 trillion – increasing to €9.2 trillion through until 2050.

“The cost of inaction is even higher,” the report says. “Aggregating over the period 2025-2100, the total cost of inaction is estimated at $1,266 trillion; that is, the difference in losses under a business-as-usual scenario and those incurred within a 1.5°C pathway.”

“This figure is, however, likely to be a dramatic underestimate.”

The United Nations’ Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the WMO’s Global Climate report showed “a planet on the brink” and that pollution from fossil fuel usage is sending climate chaos “off the charts”.

Guterres warned that the changes as a result of the continued pollution to the climate are “speeding up” and said that “Earth is issuing a distress call”.

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