The world is on course for a “catastrophic” temperature rise this century. This is according to the United Nations which confirmed that 2020 rivalled 2016 as the hottest year on record.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said the rate of climate change is destroying lives.
The UN weather agency said the warmest three years on record were 2016, 2019 and 2020, and the differences between them in average global temperatures were “indistinguishably small”.
It said the average global temperature in 2020 was about 14.9 degrees Celsius — a figure 1.2 C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level.
The La Nina cool phase of the Pacific Ocean surface temperatures cycle “put a brake on the heat only at the very end of the year,” the WMO said.
“The confirmation by the WMO that 2020 was one of the warmest years on record is yet another stark reminder of the relentless pace of climate change, which is destroying lives and livelihoods across our planet,” said UN chief Guterres.
Today, we are at 1.2 C of warming and already witnessing unprecedented weather extremes in every region and on every continent. We are headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of three to five Celsius this century.
The WMO believes there is at least a one in five chance of the average global temperature temporarily exceeding the 1.5 C mark by 2024.
The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change calls for capping global warming at well below two Celsius above the pre-industrial level, while countries will pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 C.