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WMO: State of Global Climate 2023

by Madaline Dunn

The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) report, State of the Global Climate 2023, has found that 2023 broke “every single climate indicator,” including: 

  • Greenhouse gas levels, 
  • Surface temperatures, 
  • Ocean heat and acidification, 
  • Sea level rise, and
  • Ice cover and glacier retreat

Not only was 2023 the warmest year on record, at 1.45 ± 0.12 °C above the pre-industrial average, but ocean heat content also reached its highest level in the 65-year observational record.

The report revealed that carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide also all reached record-high observed levels.

Global mean sea level reached a record high, too, while sea-ice extent reached an absolute record low in February.

The same was found for glaciers, which suffered the largest loss of ice on record, according to preliminary data. 

On the socio-economic impacts of these changes, the report notes that extreme weather and climate conditions continued to trigger “new, prolonged, and secondary displacement” in 2023.

Likewise, it highlighted their role in aggravating food insecurity and worsening biodiversity loss. 

Alongside these record-breaking figures and devastating impacts, the WMO also highlighted progress in the energy transition, with renewable capacity additions increasing by almost 50 per cent from 2022 to a total of 510 gigawatts (GW).

“Such growth marks the highest rate observed in the past two decades and, as the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicates, demonstrates the potential to achieve the clean energy goal set at COP28 to triple renewable energy capacity globally to reach 11 000 GW by 2030,” it said. 

However, the report also highlighted a significant climate financing gap, noting that for a 1.5°C pathway, annual climate finance investments need to grow by more than six times, reaching almost USD 9 trillion by 2030 and a further USD 10 trillion through to 2050.

Commenting on the report’s grim findings, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Sirens are blaring across all major indicators… Some records aren’t just chart-topping, they’re chart-busting. And changes are speeding up.”

WMO Secretary-General Celeste Saulo added: “Climate change is about much more than temperatures. What we witnessed in 2023, especially with the unprecedented ocean warmth, glacier retreat and Antarctic sea ice loss, is cause for particular concern.”

Read the full report here.

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