According to the UN, this year will be the warmest year on record. (File)

Geneva, Switzerland:

This year is set to be the hottest year on record, the United Nations said on Thursday, calling for urgent action to curb global warming and stem the devastation it causes.

The United Nations World Meteorological Organization warned that 2023 would have broken a slew of climate records and extreme weather events would have left “a trail of devastation and despair.”

“It is a deafening cacophony of broken records,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.

“Greenhouse gas levels are record high. Global temperatures are record breaking. Sea level rise is record-breaking. Antarctic sea ice is at record low levels.”

The WMO released its preliminary report on the state of the global climate in 2023 as world leaders met in Dubai for the UN climate change conference COP28, as pressure mounts to curb greenhouse gas pollution causing the planet to warm.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said the results of the record heat “should send a shiver down the spines of world leaders.”

The stakes have never been higher as scientists warn that humanity is no longer able to limit warming to manageable levels.

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement aimed to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – and if possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But in its report, the WMO said data for 2023 through the end of October showed this year was already about 1.4C above the pre-industrial baseline.

“Not just statistics”

The agency is expected to release its final 2023 State of the Global Climate report in the first half of 2024.

However, it said the difference between the first 10 months of this year and 2016 and 2020 – which previously topped the charts as the warmest years on record – “is such that the last two months most likely have no influence.” on the ranking list”.

The report also showed that the past nine years have been the hottest years on record.

“These are more than just statistics,” Taalas said, warning: “We risk losing the race to save our glaciers and curb sea level rise.”

“We cannot return to the climate of the 20th century, but we must act now to limit the risks of an increasingly inhospitable climate in this and the coming centuries.”

The WMO warned that the warming weather phenomenon El Niño, which occurred in the middle of the year, is “likely to increase the heat even further in 2024.”

That’s because the naturally occurring climate pattern that typically accompanies increasing global heat typically causes global temperatures to rise the following year.

The preliminary report also found that concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases that trap heat – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – reached record levels in 2022, with preliminary data suggesting levels continued to rise this year.

Carbon dioxide levels are 50 percent higher than in the pre-industrial era, the agency said, meaning “temperatures will continue to rise for many years” even if emissions are drastically reduced.

‘Climate chaos’

The rate of sea level rise in the last decade was more than twice as fast as in the first decade of satellite records (1993-2002), it said.

And the Antarctic sea ice peak this year was the lowest on record.

In fact, it was one million square kilometers less than the previous record low at the end of the Southern Hemisphere winter, the WMO said – an area larger than France and Germany combined.

Meanwhile, glaciers in North America and Europe suffered another extreme melting season, with Swiss glaciers losing 10 percent of their ice volume in the last two years alone, the report shows.

According to experts, such climate records are accompanied by dramatic socio-economic impacts, including declining food security and mass displacement.

“This year we have seen communities around the world devastated by fires, floods and scorching temperatures,” UN chief Guterres said in a video message.

He urged leaders gathered in Dubai to commit to drastic action to curb climate change, including phasing out fossil fuels and tripling renewable energy capacity.

“We have the roadmap to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C and avoid the worst climate chaos,” he said.

“But we need heads of state and government to give the starting signal at COP28 to maintain the 1.5 degree limit.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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