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Global temperatures breach 1.5C for a year straight

“This is more than a statistical oddity and it highlights a continuing shift in our climate,” Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo said.
Olivia Peluso
satellite image Earth's atmosphere
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The world was more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) warmer than the pre-industrial era in June for the 12th straight month, according to data released Monday from the Copernicus Climate Change Service. 

Global temperatures averaged 16.66C (62F) last month, .67 degrees Celcius above the 30-year average for June. Global temperatures were also at a record high in June for the 13th consecutive month, Copernicus said

The data is drawn from billions of measurements from ships, satellites, aircraft and weather stations worldwide.

“This is more than a statistical oddity and it highlights a continuing shift in our climate,” Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo said in a statement.

It broke the record for the hottest June, set a year prior, by 0.14 degrees Celsius. It was the third hottest month recorded by Copernicus since 1940, behind last July and last August. 

It is a “stark warning” signaling that the globe is getting closer to the 1.5-degree limit most countries accept as part of the Paris Agreement to prevent catastrophic climate change, said Copernicus senior climate scientist Nicolas Julien in an interview. 

Records have been “shattered by very substantial margins over the past 13 months”, he said.

The European Union’s Earth observation programme also said June was the 15th straight month that the world’s oceans – more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface – had experienced record-high temperatures. 

Do we still have time?

While the world has averaged above the 1.5-degree threshold for a year now, it does not mean that the Paris accord has failed because it is measured in averages reached over decades, not single months or years. 

However, the extreme warming has translated into more extreme climate events, including worsening storms, floods, droughts and heatwaves. Scientists say going beyond this threshold would expose millions more to the catastrophic impacts of weather extremes. 

Some 83% of the world’s cities are reporting significant climate hazards, with over half already significantly impacted by these hazards, according to recent data from CDP.  Flooding and extreme heat are the most widespread impacts facing cities across all continents, the non-profit, which runs the world’s environmental disclosure system for companies and municipalities, said. 

One-third of all climate infrastructure projects reported by cities to CDP focus on increasing climate adaptation and resilience, collectively valued at $47 billion while seeking $21 billion in investment, CDP said. 

To stay within the Paris accord limits, scientists say global greenhouse gas emissions would need to peak in 2025, decline by over 40% by 2030, and reach net zero by 2050.