UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoing top UN climate scientists on Thursday said that it was virtually certain that July 2023 would be the warmest on record in human history.
UN Spokesperson Mr Stephane Dujarric told journalists at UN headquarters in New York that Guterres said this while speaking on the latest data by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service.
The data confirms July is set out to be the hottest month ever recorded in human history.
Guterres said that short of a mini-Ice Age in coming days, July 2023 would likely “shatter records across the board”.
“Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning,” said the UN chief, warning that the consequences are as clear as they are tragic: “children swept away by monsoon rains, families running from the flames (and) workers collapsing in scorching heat.”
In Geneva, WMO and the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service described conditions this month as “rather remarkable and unprecedented”.
They said that new data showed that so far, July has seen the hottest three-week period ever recorded and the three hottest days on record.
“We can say that the first three weeks of July have been the warmest three weeks periods ever observed in our record,” Carlo Buentempo, Director of Copernicus Climate Change Service, said via Zoom.
“This anomaly is so large with respect to other record-breaking months in our record that we are virtually certain that the month, the month as a whole will become the warmest July on record, the warmest month on record, in all likelihood.”
Just as worrying was the fact that ocean temperatures are at their highest-ever recorded levels for this time of year. This trend has been apparent since the end of April.
Citing “a clear and dramatic warming decade on decade” since the 1970s, WMO’s Director of Climate Services Chris Hewitt noted that 2015 to 2022 saw the eight warmest years on record, based on a 173-year dataset.
This was in spite the fact that the La Niña sea-cooling phenomenon prevailed towards the end of that period in the Pacific region, which reined in global average temperatures slightly, Hewitt explained.
“But now the La Niña has ended” – to be replaced by the sea-warming El Niño effect – waters have begun to heat up in the tropical Pacific, bringing the “almost certain likelihood that one of the next five years will be the warmest on record”.
It is also “more likely than not” that global average temperatures will temporarily exceed the 1.5°C threshold above pre-industrial levels “for at least one of the five years,” the WMO scientist continued.