Global temperature records look likely to be smashed once again this year, with 2017 on course to be one of the three hottest years on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
In a provisional statement released today to mark the beginning of the COP23 climate summit in Bonn, the WMO issued a stark warning that the average global temperatures from January to September were approximately 1.1C above pre-industrial levels.
As a result, it said 2017 was set to be the second warmest year ever recorded, just ahead of 2015. 2016 is likely remain the hottest on record due to last year’s powerful El Niño phenomenon.
Overall, the 2013-2017 period is set to be the warmest five-year period on record, WMO added, and 2017 is set to be the hottest year on record without El Niño influence.
Parts of southern Europe, including Italy, North Africa, parts of east and southern Africa and the Asian part of the Russian Federation endured their warmest-ever years, while northwestern USA and western Canada were cooler than the 1981-2010 average, the agency added.
And in a year so far marked by many high-impact events including catastrophic hurricanes and floods as well as debilitating heatwaves and drought, the WMO warned the long-term indicators of climate change – such as increasing CO2 concentrations, sea level rise and ocean acidification – continue unabated.
“The past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records – this is part of a long-term warming trend,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa.”
“Many of these events – and detailed scientific studies will determine exactly how many – bear the tell-tale sign of climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas concentrations from human activities,” added Taalas.
The statement also includes information submitted by a range of UN agencies on human, socio-economic and environmental climate-related impacts as part of “a drive to provide a more comprehensive, UN-wide policy brief for decision makers on the interplay between weather, climate and water and the UN global goals”, the WMO said.
It follows a recent study by the WMO which found concentrations of CO2 reached their highest level in 800,000 years during 2016.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC said today’s findings underline the risks posed by climate change to people, economies, and “the very fabric of life on Earth” unless the world keeps on track with the ambitions and targets of the Paris Agreement.
“There is unprecedented and very welcome momentum among governments, but also cities, states, territories, regions, business and civil society,” she said in a statement. “Bonn 2017 needs to be the launch pad towards the next, higher level of ambition by all nations and all sectors of society as we look to de-risk the future and maximise the opportunities from a fresh, forward-looking and sustainable development path.”