January sets record as world's warmest, according to EU scientists
The European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reported that the world has just experienced its warmest January on record, marking a continuation of exceptional global warmth driven by climate change. Last month, temperatures exceeded those of the previous record-holder, January 2020, in data tracking back to 1950.
This record-setting month follows 2023, which was identified as the planet's warmest year since records began in 1850, propelled by human-induced climate change and the El Niño phenomenon. El Niño, which warms the surface waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean, has contributed to the rise in temperatures.
According to C3S, every month since June has set a record as the world's warmest compared to the same months in previous years. "Not only is it the warmest January on record, but we have also just experienced a 12-month period more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) above the pre-industrial reference period," said Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of C3S.
"Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to halt the rise in global temperatures," Burgess emphasized.
U.S. scientists predict a one-in-three chance that 2024 will surpass last year as even hotter, with a 99% probability of it being among the top five warmest years. Although the El Niño phenomenon began to weaken last month, scientists suggest it may transition to its cooler counterpart, La Niña, later this year. Nonetheless, the average global sea surface temperature last month was the highest ever recorded for January.
The 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to mitigate severe and irreversible climate impacts, is yet to be breached in terms of average global temperature over decades, despite the 12-month period exceeding 1.5°C. Some scientists argue that meeting the Paris Agreement's goals may no longer be realistic but stress the urgency of faster action to reduce CO2 emissions. This effort aims to minimize the potential harm, including deadly heatwaves, drought, and rising sea levels, to people and ecosystems.