For the first time on record, global warming has exceeded temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over a 12-month period, European climate monitors have said, in what scientists called a “warning to humanity”.
The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reported the run of exceptional heat on Thursday, measuring temperatures between February 2023 to January 2024 to record the highest 12-month global temperature average on record.
Storms, drought and fires lashed the planet as climate change, as well as the El Nino weather phenomenon that warms the surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, made 2023 the planet’s hottest year in global records going back to 1850.
The extremes have continued into 2024, C3S said, confirming the year-long warming of 1.52C above the 19th century benchmark.
Scientists said, however, that the world has not yet permanently breached the crucial 1.5C warming threshold target outlined in the Paris climate agreement, which is measured over decades.
In 2015, almost 200 governments signed the unprecedented Paris climate agreement to phase out fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy in the second half of the century. Last year, the United Nations said the world is not on track to meet the long-term goals of that deal, including capping global warming at 1.5C.
Some scientists have said the Paris Agreement’s goal can no longer realistically be met, but are still urging governments to act faster to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to limit overshooting the target.