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2023 confirmed as the hottest year on record
by NASA, EU Copernicus Climate Service, agencies
9:11am 10th Jan, 2024
Jan. 2024
NASA Analysis Confirms 2023 as Warmest Year on Record
Earth’s average surface temperature in 2023 was the warmest on record, according to an analysis by NASA. Global temperatures last year were around 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius) above the average for NASA’s baseline period (1951-1980), scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York reported.
“NASA and NOAA’s global temperature report confirms what billions of people around the world experienced last year; we are facing a climate crisis,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “From extreme heat, to wildfires, to rising sea levels, we can see our Earth is changing.
In 2023, hundreds of millions of people around the world experienced extreme heat, and each month from June through December set a global record for the respective month. July was the hottest month ever recorded. Overall, Earth was about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 1.4 degrees Celsius) warmer in 2023 than the late 19th-century average, when modern record-keeping began.
“The exceptional warming that we’re experiencing is not something we’ve seen before in human history,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of GISS. “It’s driven primarily by our fossil fuel emissions, and we’re seeing the impacts in heat waves, intense rainfall, and coastal flooding.”
“The record-setting year of 2023 underscores the significance of urgent and continued actions to address climate change,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy.
NASA assembles its temperature record using surface air temperature data collected from tens of thousands of meteorological stations, as well as sea surface temperature data acquired by ship- and buoy-based instruments. Independent analyses by NOAA and the Hadley Centre (part of the United Kingdom Met Office) concluded the global surface temperatures for 2023 were the highest since modern record-keeping began.
Jan. 2024 (Copernicus Climate Change Service)
2023 has been confirmed as the hottest year on record surpassing 2016, the previous hottest year, by a large margin, according to a new report released by the European Union Copernicus Climate Change Service. The data for this record goes back to 1850.
Samantha Burgess, deputy director of Copernicus, said 2023 was an exceptional year "with climate records tumbling like dominoes."
July and August were Earth's two warmest months on record along with the Northern Hemisphere's summer season reaching new highs. December 2023 was the warmest December on record globally.
Analysis shows that 2023 was 1.48 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1850-1900 pre-industrial reference level with close to half of the days in 2023 surpassing the 1.5°C warming limit. Two days in November days that were more than 2°C warmer for the first time on record.
"Not only is 2023 the warmest year on record, it is also the first year with all days over 1°C warmer than the pre-industrial period. Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years," Burgess said.
Since June, every month has been the world's hottest on record compared with the corresponding month in previous years. More than 200 days saw a new daily global temperature record for the time of year, according to Copernicus Climate Change Service data.
The world’s CO2 emissions from burning coal, oil and gas hit record levels in 2023. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere rose to the highest level recorded at 419 parts per million, C3S said.
"These are more than just statistics," says Prof Petteri Taalas, the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization between 2016 and 2023. "Extreme weather is destroying lives and livelihoods on a daily basis."
Countries agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement to try to prevent global warming surpassing 1.5C, to avoid its most severe consequences.
C3S said that temperatures exceeding the level on nearly half of the days of 2023 sets "a dire precedent".
Copernicus predicts that the 12-month period ending in January or February 2024 would "exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level".
“The extremes we have observed over the last few months provide a dramatic testimony of how far we now are from the climate in which our civilization developed,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of Copernicus’ Climate Change Service. “This has profound consequences for the Paris Agreement and all human endeavors. If we want to manage climate risk we need to urgently decarbonize our economy.”
The global average temperature for 2023 was 14.98 degrees Celsius. The previous record was 14.81 degrees Celsius set in 2016.
According to the CCCS, the annual average air temperatures were the warmest on record, or close to the warmest, over the majority of ocean basins and continents around the world. Unprecedented high sea surface temperature were a critical driver of the extreme air temperature in 2023, according to the CCCS. Antarctic sea ice crashed to record lows.
2023 saw massive fires in Canada, extreme droughts in the Horn of Africa or the Middle East, unprecedented summer heatwaves in Europe, the United States and China, along with record winter warmth in Australia and South America.
"Such events will continue to get worse until we transition away from fossil fuels and reach net-zero emissions," says University of Reading climate change professor Ed Hawkins. "We will continue to suffer the consequences of our inactions today for generations."
Prof Brian Hoskins, at Imperial College London, said: “2023 has given us a taste of the climate extremes that occur near the Paris targets. It should shake the complacency displayed in the actions by most governments around the world.”
"We desperately need to rapidly cut fossil fuel use and reach net-zero to preserve the liveable climate that we all depend on," said John Marsham, atmospheric science professor at the University of Leeds.
Each fraction of temperature increase exacerbates extreme and destructive weather disasters.
A sample of reactions to the outcome of the COP 28 Climate Summit in Dubai:
13 Dec. 2023
Nearly every country in the world has agreed to “transition away from fossil fuels” – the main driver of climate change – at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai. It is the first time such an agreement has been reached in 28 years of international climate negotiations.
The commitment is included in the first “global stocktake” of how countries can accelerate action to meet the goals of the landmark Paris Agreement.
However, many countries walked away from the talks frustrated at the lack of a clear call for a fossil-fuel “phase-out” this decade – and at a “litany of loopholes” in the text that might enable the production and consumption of coal, oil and gas to continue for decades to come.
Despite an early breakthrough on launching a fund to pay for “loss and damage” from climate change, developing countries were left disappointed by a lack of new financial commitments for transitioning away from fossil fuels and adapting to climate impacts.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's statement at the closing of the UN Climate Change Conference COP28:
"COP28 occurred at a decisive moment in the fight against the climate crisis – a moment that demands maximum ambition both in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and climate justice.
The Global Stocktake clearly reaffirmed the imperative of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees which requires drastic reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions in this decade.
For the first time, the outcome recognizes the need to transition away from fossil fuels – after many years in which the discussion of this issue was blocked. Science tells us that limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees will be impossible without the phase out of all fossil fuels on a timeframe consistent with this limit. This has been recognized by a growing and diverse coalition of countries.
To those who opposed a clear reference to a phase out of fossil fuels in the COP28 text, I want to say that a fossil fuel phase out is inevitable whether they like it or not.
All efforts must be consistent with achieving global net zero by 2050 and preserving the 1.5 degree goal. And developing countries must be supported every step of the way. The era of fossil fuels must end – and it must end with justice and equity.
COP28 agreed to commitments to triple renewables capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030. COP28 also offered some other building blocks for progress – including the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund, even though financial commitments are very limited.
The new framework on adaptation action must be underpinned with credible climate policies and regulations, including a price on carbon and ending finance for fossil fuel. Both the preparation and implementation of these plans must be fully funded and supported. These plans must be aligned with the 1.5 degree temperature target and cover all greenhouse gases.
Much more is needed to keep the hope of the 1.5 degree limit alive and deliver climate justice to those on the frontlines of the crisis. Many vulnerable countries are drowning in debt and at risk of drowning in rising seas.
It is past time for a surge in finance, including for adaptation, loss and damage and reform of the international financial architecture. We need increased capital and reform of the business model of multilateral development banks to massively increase direct support – and to leverage far more private finance at reasonable costs for climate action in developing countries.
The world cannot afford delays, indecision, or half measures. It is essential to come together around real, practical and meaningful climate solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis".
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell:
"These climate conferences are a consensus-based process, meaning all Parties must agree on every word, every comma, every full stop. This is not easy. It’s not easy at all. Whilst we didn’t turn the page to end the fossil fuel era in Dubai, there was recognition of the need to transition away from fossil fuels.
At COP28 countries pledged to tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency. All governments and businesses need to turn these pledges into real-economy outcomes, without delay.
COP28 needed to signal a hard stop to humanity’s core climate problem – fossil fuels and their planet-burning pollution. We are currently headed for warming just short of an alarming 3 degrees. It equates to mass human suffering.
The global stocktake showed us clearly that progress is not fast enough. Human lives in large numbers are being lost in every country to climate change.
There are vast benefits of bolder climate action. More security, stability and protection for eight billion people. More jobs, greater economic growth, less pollution and better health.
We must get on with the job of putting the Paris Agreement to work. In early 2025, countries must deliver new Nationally Determined Contributions. Every single commitment – on finance, adaptation, and mitigation – must bring us in line with a 1.5-degree world.
My message to people everywhere raising their voices for greater climate action. Every one of you is making a difference. In the crucial coming years, your voices and determination will be more important than ever – I urge you never to relent".
Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Inger Andersen:
“The deal is not perfect, but one thing is clear: the world is no longer denying our harmful addiction to fossil fuels. Now we move beyond bargaining to action. This means real action on a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, especially for the G20. To have any hope of doing this in line with what the science demands of us, we must unleash far greater finance to support countries in a just, equitable and clean transition, which is especially important for developing nations that must leapfrog to low-carbon development. We have the solutions; we know what needs to be done. And action can no longer wait.”
World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas
“The agreement at COP28 in Dubai is historic in that – for the first time – it recognizes the need to transition away from fossil fuels for the first time. This is an important step in the right direction but not the final goal. We urgently need to reduce our production and consumption of fossil fuels and speed up the transition to renewables. Time is running out”.
“WMO reports presented to COP28 highlighted the accelerating pace of climate change and its impacts on our planet and – through more extreme weather – on our daily lives. 2023 is virtually certain to be the warmest year on record, already about 1.4°C above the pre-industrial era when COP28 started in November. 2024 is expected to continue to be warm, perhaps even hotter. It is imperative that we stay below the 1.5°C lower temperature limit of the Paris Agreement and we are getting perilously close”.
“Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere keep reaching record levels year-on-year, meaning that temperatures will continue to rise in the coming decades, given the long lifetime of CO2".
Madeleine Diouf Sarr, chair of the Least Developed Countries Group, which has almost 50 member states.
“This outcome reflects the very lowest possible ambition that we could accept rather than what we know, according to the best available science, is necessary to urgently address the climate crisis.
“Limiting warming to 1.5C is a matter of survival, and international cooperation remains key to ensuring it. Alignment with 1.5C not only requires countries to urgently reduce domestic carbon emissions but also the delivery of significant climate finance so that we can continue our leadership in going well beyond our fair share of the global effort when it comes to reducing emissions.
There is recognition in this text of the trillions of dollars needed to address climate change in our countries. Yet it fails to deliver a credible response to this challenge. Next year will be critical in deciding the new climate finance goal. Today’s outcome on the the Global Goal on Adaptation is full of eloquent language but regrettably devoid of actionable commitments.”
Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics:
"The results of the global stocktake show clearly that the world is badly off track in the task of realising the goals of the Paris agreement. Failure to achieve the Paris agreement would leave the world in a very dangerous state.
The decision on the global stocktake explicitly recognises, for the first time in the outcome of a United Nations climate change summit, that the world needs to transition away from all fossil fuels, and towards cleaner alternatives, particularly renewables. It is clear that this transition must be worldwide, at scale, and urgent..
Countries must now respond to the outcome of Cop28 through a huge increase in investment in zero-emissions and climate-resilient economic development and growth, particularly in developing countries.
The text of the Global Stocktake decision rightly stresses the need to mobilise trillions of dollars in investment to accelerate cuts in greenhouse gases, strengthen adaptation and resilience, and respond to loss and damage. The goals of the Paris agreement will not be realised without a major and rapid increase in investment, particularly in developing countries".
Al Gore, former US vice-president:
“The decision at Cop28 to finally recognize that the climate crisis is, at its heart, a fossil fuel crisis is an important milestone. But it is also the bare minimum we need and is long overdue. The influence of petrostates is still evident in the half measures and loopholes included in the final agreement. Fossil fuel interests went all out to control the outcome, but the passionate work of millions of climate activists around the world inspired and motivated delegates from many nations to loosen the industry’s grip. Whether this is a turning point that truly marks the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era depends on the actions that come next and the mobilization of finance required to achieve them".
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg:
"The final outcome of COP28 is not a 'historic win. It is yet another example of extremely vague and watered down texts full of loopholes that in no way is even close to being sufficient for staying within the 1.5°C limit and ensuring climate justice."
"This COP has once again proven that the COP processes are not working in our favor. They are not designed to solve the climate crisis. They are more working as an alibi for world leaders to hide behind their signature on a document while continuing to do nothing".
"We need drastic immediate emission cuts and binding commitments from the largest contributors of the climate crisis to finance loss and damages, adaptation, and a just transition in the most affected areas."
Climate scientist Dr Friederike Otto, Imperial College London, and co-founder of the World Weather Attribution group:
“The lukewarm agreement reached at Cop28 will cost every country, no matter how rich, no matter how poor. Everyone loses. It’s hailed as a compromise, but we need to be very clear what has been compromised. The short-term financial interests of a few have again won over the health, lives and livelihoods of most people living on this planet.
“With every vague verb, every empty promise in the final text, millions more people will enter the frontline of climate change and many will die. At 1.2C of warming, we’re already seeing devastating climate impacts that disrupt economies, destroy livelihoods and claim lives.
“Climate change is driving instability. Nearly every country wants stability, but until fossil fuels are phased out, the world will continue to become a more dangerous, more expensive and more uncertain place to live.”
A delegate from the Children and Youth observers said the agreement had “written her obituary at the age of 16”. In a fiery joint speech, two youth delegates criticised leaders for applauding the Global Stocktake despite its flaws. They also criticised the countries in the room for funding war while failing to spend enough on stopping climate change. “Not in our name. For shame.”
Prof Johan Rockstrom, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany:
“No, the Cop28 agreement will not enable the world to hold the 1.5C limit, but yes, the result is significant. The agreement delivers on making it clear to all financial institutions, businesses and societies that we are now finally – eight years behind the Paris schedule – at the true ‘beginning of the end’ of the fossil-fuel driven world economy. Yet the fossil-fuel statement remains too vague, with no hard and accountable boundaries for 2030, 2040 and 2050.”
Scientist Bill Hare, at Climate Analytics:
“Overall, the text looks like a major victory for the oil and gas producing countries and fossil fuel exporters.” The major problems with the text are: ⁠no commitment to phase out fossil fuels; no commitment to peak emissions by 2025; text on carbon capture that opens the door to false solutions at scale; text which refers to “transitional fuels” is code for gas and has been promoted by gas exporters".
Dr Ella Gilbert, at British Antarctic Survey:
“The Cop28 agreement finally puts into words what scientists have been saying for decades – that continued fossil fuel use must be eliminated to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. The record hot year of 2023 has given us a taste of what is to come and demonstrates how urgently we must act. While this eleventh-hour intervention is welcome, it will not be strong enough to avoid the worst impacts, devastating extreme events.”
Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International:
“After decades of evasion, Cop28 finally cast a glaring spotlight on the real culprits of the climate crisis: fossil fuels. A long-overdue direction to move away from coal, oil, and gas has been set. Yet, the resolution is marred by loopholes that offer the fossil fuel industry numerous escape routes, relying on unproven, unsafe technologies. The hypocrisy of wealthy nations, particularly the US, as they continue to expand fossil fuel operations massively while merely paying lip service to the green transition, stands exposed.”
Inger Ashing, Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children International:
“The agreement on transitioning away from fossil fuels can only be a starting point to protect children who continue to bear the brunt of the climate crisis, a crisis not of their making.
Year after year, children share how the climate crisis impacts their lives. Imagine a world where your home, your school, and your family’s livelihoods are swept away. It’s a harsh reality that children on the frontlines of the climate crisis are facing today.
It’s high time we stand with children and place their voices at the heart of every aspect of climate change decision-making and financing. Governments worldwide must take this decision to heart, accelerate towards a greener, safer, and more sustainable future for our children. We need to act now, our children’s lives depend on it.”
Laura Young, Tearfund Ambassador and Climate Scientist:
“The final outcome of the UN climate talks has shifted the dial though it falls short of the landmark energy agreement that would have hailed the end of the fossil fuel era. The result is a mixed bag of transitioning away from fossil fuels whilst opening the door to dangerous distractions and weakening of past commitments. We should applaud that countries have pledged to triple renewables and double energy efficiency by 2030, but unless coal, oil and gas are phased out at the same time, we’ll continue to fuel climate disaster."
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead, and COP20 President:
“The earth is down but not out, as countries agree to transition away from fossil fuels, but fall short of consensus on the full phase out of coal, oil and gas at COP28. Nevertheless, a decision to transition away from fossil fuels is a significant moment. After three decades of UN climate negotiations, countries have at last shifted the focus to the polluting fossil fuels driving the climate crisis. This outcome must signal the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era.
It is unfortunate that with the inclusion of the word ‘unabated’, the outcome suggests there is a considerable role for dangerous distractions such as large-scale carbon capture and storage and ‘transitional fuels’. This is not the case. For a liveable planet we need a full phase out of all fossil fuels. The Global Stocktake is clear that eight years on from the Paris Agreement, we are still way off course to limit global warming to 1.5C and avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis. In this critical decade, all countries must enhance the ambition and implementation of climate action. It is vital that countries work now to transform their energy systems and replace polluting fossil fuels with clean and cheaper renewable energy, such as wind and solar, at an unprecedented speed and scale.”
Nikki Reisch, CIEL’s Director of Climate & Energy Program:
“Countries at COP28 faced a choice between fossil fuels and life. And big polluters chose fossil fuels. Despite the unstoppable momentum and unequivocal science behind the need for a clear signal on the phaseout of oil, gas, and coal – free of loopholes or limitations – the text failed to deliver one. This failure was thirty years in the making, borne of a process that allows a select few countries to hold progress hostage and the fossil fuel industry not just to sit at the table, but to play host. Survival cannot depend on lowest-common-denominator outcomes. We need alternative forums to manage the decline of fossil fuels, free from the influence of those who profit from them. So long as the biggest polluters continue recklessly expanding oil and gas and staunchly refusing to provide climate finance on anything approaching the scale needed, the world will remain on a death course. Ultimately, lives depend not on what countries profess in these halls, but what they do outside of them. And we will continue to hold them accountable; the people-powered movement fighting for climate justice and the end of the fossil era will not back down.”
Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at CAFOD:
“Cop28 has confirmed what we need to do with an explicit reference to a world without fossil fuels. But with little new funding, the ‘how’ this happens in a fair and rapid way to support the needs of low-income countries whose populations are suffering from the climate crisis is far from clear. It risks pushing those countries further into a debt crisis.”
Samoa's lead delegate Anne Rasmussen, representing the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS):
"The course correction that is needed has not been secured. The deal has a litany of loopholes.. We have made an incremental advancement over business as usual when what we really needed is an exponential step-change in our actions and support.. It is not enough for us to reference the science and then make agreements that ignore what the science is telling us we need to do. This is not an approach that we should be asked to defend.”
Brianna Fruean, a Samoan climate activist:
“The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process is broken. We saw so many fossil fuel lobbyists here, and obviously while we are upset at the results, there's people here who are celebrating. Somebody here has had a successful COP, that's the 2,000+ lobbyists. And you know, we're given crumbs to celebrate, but it's like asking us to celebrate flowers that will lie on our graves, you know, how do we celebrate that?"
John Silk, head of the Marshall Islands delegation:
"I came here to build a canoe together.. We have built a canoe with a weak and leaky hull, full of holes. Yet we have to put it in the water because we have no other option."
Landry Ninteretse, Regional Director,
"Our expectation was that COP 28 would, at the very least, demonstrate commitment to course correcting and charting a path to a complete phase out of all fossil fuels, a sustainable future built on renewables, ambitious adaptation finance and clear technology transfer commitments by rich nations. The support for the tripling of renewable energy, has ignited optimism and energized communities that have been putting their own power behind the call to power up renewables. However the process failed to deliver on the commitment to a full, fast and fair phase out of fossil fuels and was lacking in the climate finance to support adaptation and mitigation in the most climate vulnerable nations. To truly deliver climate justice, the biggest polluters must lead on the phaseout and commit to supporting the deployment of renewable energy in Africa”.
Prof Martin Siegert, University of Exeter, UK:
“The science is perfectly clear. Cop28, by not making a clear declaration to stop fossil fuel burning is a tragedy for the planet and our future. The world is heating faster and more powerfully than the COP response to deal with it.”
Associate Professor James Dyke, University of Exeter:
“Cop28 needed to deliver an unambiguous statement about the rapid phase out of fossil fuels, given record-breaking global temperature and greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, that did not happen. While the agreement’s call for the need to transition away from fossil fuels is welcome, it has numerous caveats and loopholes that risks rendering it meaningless when it comes to our efforts to limit warming to well below 2C. That this deal has been hailed as a landmark is more a measure of previous failures than any step change when it comes to the increasingly urgent need to rapidly stop burning coal, oil and gas.”
Mike O’Sullivan, University of Exeter:
“It’s obvious to most people that limiting global warming means reducing fossil fuel use, but only now do our leaders say this. But so what? Where are the real global plans for the energy transition, without relying on fanciful tech solutions, with adequate support for poorer nations? Where is the global leadership to take the right action, not the selfish action? Across the globe, there are plans to expand fossil production – how does this fit with the text that’s just been agreed?"
Dr Emma Lawrance, Imperial College London, UK said:
“The Cop negotiations are ultimately negotiating human health and wellbeing – mental and physical. However, unless developed countries lead the way in delivering emission cuts and the fair funding structures other countries need to act, the cost of inaction will be lives, and quality of life.”
Dr Leslie Mabon, Open University, UK:
“A lot of the blame for slow-walking these climate talks and watering down the final text will rightly be placed on the major oil-producing states. However, the outcome is also a wake-up call for wealthier and historically high-emitting nations. Countries like the UK, the US and those in the European Union need to walk the walk on climate change if they want to be seen as credible climate leaders globally. This means showing leadership by reducing our own production of and demand for fossil fuels.”
Prof Daniela Schmidt, University of Bristol:
“The time for talking is over. Delaying change further is indefensible. Pretending that reducing emissions by 2050 is enough ignores the dangerous, life-threatening consequences of our anthropogenic heating of the planet. There are still trillions in subsidies given every year to fossil fuel industries who make money for their shareholders ignoring the consequences. Why is that money not redirected to help communities adapt and change the way we live?”
Prof Gulcin Ozkan, King’s College London,UK:
“The final declaration falls short on many levels. First, it is vague with no timeframe, hence the process can potentially take a very long time. Second, there is no clear commitment regarding financial support to the less developed countries in their transition. Finally, and surprisingly, there is no mention of a net zero target for methane emissions.”
Dr Elena Cantarello, Bournemouth University, UK:
“It is hugely disappointing to see how a very small number of countries have been able to put short term national interests ahead of the future of people and nature.”
Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland:
“The Cop28 agreement, while signalling the need to bring about the end of the fossil fuel era, falls short by failing to commit to a full fossil fuel phase out. If 1.5C is our ‘North Star’, and science is our compass, we must swiftly phase out all fossil fuels to chart a course towards a liveable future. World leaders must continue to urgently pull together and find ways forward to tackle this existential threat. Every day of delay condemns millions to an uninhabitable world.”

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