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Last year tied as world“s fifth-warmest on record, U.S. scientists say

2023-01-12T16:13:36Z

Last year was the world’s joint-fifth warmest year on record and the last nine years were the nine warmest since pre-industrial times, as climate change continued to raise temperatures and fuel extreme weather, U.S. scientists said on Thursday.

Last year tied with 2015 as the fifth warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA said.

That was despite the presence of the La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which generally lowers global temperatures slightly.

The world’s average global temperature is now 1.1C to 1.2C higher than in pre-industrial times.

The NOAA-NASA analysis said temperatures were increasing by more than 0.2C per decade, putting the world on track to blow past the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5C to avoid its most devastating consequences.

“At the rate that we’re going, it’s not going to take more than two decades to get us to that. And the only way that we’re not going to do that is if we stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Schmidt said he expected 2023 to be slightly warmer than 2022, due to a weaker La Nina cooling phenomenon.

“The global mean temperature will be even higher in 10 years from now,” said ETH Zurich climate scientist Sonia Seneviratne, adding that unless countries stopped burning CO2-emitting fossil fuels temperatures would continue to climb.

The changing climate fuelled weather extremes across the planet in 2022. Europe suffered its hottest summer on record, while in Pakistan floods killed 1,700 people and wrecked infrastructure, drought ravaged crops in Uganda and wildfires ripped through Mediterranean countries.

Despite most of the world’s major emitters pledging to eventually slash their net emissions to zero, global CO2 emissions continue to rise.

Concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere last year reached levels not experienced on earth for 3 million years, Schmidt said.

At this year’s COP28 climate conference, countries will formally assess their progress towards the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C goal – and the far faster emissions cuts needed to meet it.

COP28 host the United Arab Emirates on Thursday appointed the head of its state-owned oil company as president of the conference, sparking concerns among campaigners and scientists about the fossil fuel industry’s influence in the talks.

The NOAA-NASA findings align with separate analysis from European Union scientists, who this week ranked 2022 as the world’s fifth warmest year in their records.

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