Like many years over the past decade, 2023 was packed with record breaking weather and temperatures. In fact, the average global temperature in 2023 was 1.48°C higher compared to pre-industrial times, making it the hottest year since records began. This level of warming is alarmingly close to the 1.5°C limit established by the 2015 Paris Agreement, a critical threshold for avoiding the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
The year 2023 surpassed 2016, the previous record year, by a margin of 0.17°C. This significant leap in temperature is attributed primarily to the continued high emissions of carbon dioxide, coupled with the influence of natural climate phenomena like El Niño. The CCCS anticipates that the 1.5°C mark may be exceeded within the next year, a prediction that underscores the urgency of the situation.
The effects of these rising temperatures were visible and severe. Heatwaves, floods, and wildfires, exacerbated by human-induced climate change, wreaked havoc globally, affecting lives and livelihoods. Some extreme weather events, such as the heatwaves in Europe and the US, were deemed virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change.
In a particularly alarming revelation, CCCS data indicated that every day of 2023 was at least 1°C warmer than the pre-industrial average. Furthermore, nearly half of the days exceeded the 1.5°C mark, with two days surpassing a 2°C increase. This trend reached its peak in September, with temperatures so far above historical averages that it was described as "gobsmackingly bananas".
These developments have profound implications for global climate policy and the Paris Agreement. Carlo Buontempo, director of CCCS, emphasised the dramatic shift from the climate conditions under which human civilisation developed.
As we continue to witness year after year, global temperature records are not just being broken, they are being shattered. Each passing year seems to bring with it a new, grim record, a trend extensively covered in media reports worldwide. Alongside these reports is a recurring plea for change—a call to action that, frustratingly, often seems to be ignored. The sad reality is that the pace of global policy and action is not keeping up with the speed at which our climate is changing.
This persistent pattern underscores a crucial point: we cannot afford to sit back and wait for governmental policies alone to address this crisis. It's imperative that businesses also step forward and play a pivotal role in this fight. Companies across all sectors have a responsibility to not only reduce their own carbon footprint but also to ensure sustainability throughout their supply chains.
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