PARIS (AFP) – 2020 has tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, the European Union’s (EU) climate monitoring service said yesterday, keeping Earth on a global warming fast track that could devastate large swathes of humanity.
The six years since 2015 are the six warmest ever registered, as are 20 of the last 21, evidence of a persistent and deepening trend, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reported.
Last year’s record high – a soaring 1.25 degrees Celsius (C) above pre-industrial levels – was all the more alarming because it came without the help of a periodic natural weather event known as an El Nino, which added up to two-tenths of a degree to the 2016 average, according NASA and Britain’s Met Office.
“It is quite clear that in the absence of El Nino and La Nina impacts on year-to-year temperatures, 2020 would be the warmest year on record,” Director of Climate and Energy Zeke Hausfather at the Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, California, told AFP.
During an El Nino, which occurs every two to seven years, warm surface water in the tropical Pacific Ocean can boost global temperatures. La Ninas – such as one currently underway – have the opposite cooling effect.
“2020 stands out for its exceptional warmth,” said C3S director Carlo Buontempo.
“This is yet another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emissions reductions to prevent adverse climate impacts in the future.”
In 2015, nations vowed to cap global warming “well below” 2C, and 1.5C if possible.
A subsequent report from the United Nations’ (UN) climate science advisory panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), left no doubt that 1.5C was the safer threshold.