Nov 30, 2023 - Energy & Environment

UN report: 2023 "virtually certain" to be hottest year on record

Illustration of a crystal ball with the US side of a globe glowing red

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

This year is set to break the record for the hottest year on record, the World Meteorological Organization said in a report released Thursday.

Why it matters: The UN's weather agency published the report noting this year has "shattered climate records" to coincide with the start of the COP 28 climate summit in Dubai, underscoring the urgency of the talks.

Details: Based on data until October, it is "virtually certain" that this year will be the warmest in the 174-year observational record.

  • It will surpass the previous warmest years of 2016 and 2020, as the final two months of the year are very unlikely to affect the ranking, per the agency.

Of note: The global temperature tracking agencies have yet to proclaim it officially, but are virtually certain to do so.

Zoom out: The past nine years, 2015 to 2023, were the warmest on record, and the warming El Niño event is likely to keep fueling the heat in 2024, per the WMO.

What they're saying: WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said in a statement that greenhouse gas, global temperatures and sea level rise are all at a record high, while Antarctic sea ice is at a record low.

  • "It's a deafening cacophony of broken records," he said. "Extreme weather is destroying lives and livelihoods on a daily basis – underlining the imperative need to ensure that everyone is protected by early warning services."

Go deeper: COP28: Here are the key developments to watch

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