2023 'hottest year' on record; rate of sea-level rise doubled in 10 years: WMO report

“The year 2023 broke every single climate indicator”

global warming Representative image

The year 2023 was the warmest on record in the 174-year observational period, revealed the ‘State of the Global Climate 2023’ report released on Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The global average temperature in 2023 was 1.45 ± 0.12 °C above the 1850–1900 (pre-industrial) average. This is the closest the world has come to the 1.5° C lower limit of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Besides, the concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—reached record high observed levels, the study found. 

“The year 2023 broke every single climate indicator,” wrote Prof. Celeste Saulo, Secretary-General, WMO in the foreword of the report laced with red-herrings. “Concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise, ocean heat content and sea level reached record observed highs. Antarctic sea ice extent hit record observed lows. Key glaciers suffered record losses. The climate crisis is the defining challenge that humanity faces.” 

The report states that the rate of sea-level rise in the past ten years (2014–2023) has more than doubled whereas Antarctic sea-ice extent reached an absolute record low in February. 

Glaciers are in no better condition. As per the report, the global set of reference glaciers for the hydrological year 2022-2023 experienced the largest loss of ice on record (1950-2023). “The extreme weather continued to lead to severe socio-economic impacts exacerbating humanitarian crises, with millions experiencing acute food insecurity and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.” 

The shift from La Niña, which lasted from mid-2020 to early 2023, to fully developed El Niño conditions by September 2023 is said to be behind the rise in temperature from 2022 to 2023. However, some areas of unusual warming such as the Northeast Atlantic do not correspond to typical patterns of warming or cooling associated with El Niño. 

On the state of climate financing, the report found that despite a slight growing momentum in climate finance, tracked flows represent only approximately 1 per cent of the global GDP. “Disaggregating global climate finance flows reveals that growth is neither sufficient nor consistent across sectors and regions.” 

In 2021-22, the report says, the growth in global climate finance largely stemmed from significant increases in clean energy investments in only a handful of geographies that includes China, the US, Europe, Brazil, Japan and India, which together received 90 per cent of the increase in funds. “Other regions, including many climate vulnerable countries, and other important sectors – for example, agriculture and industry – are being left behind, receiving little finance that is disproportionately low given their significant mitigation potential,” reads the report.  

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