SINGAPORE: The target of keeping long-term global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius is moving out of reach, with nations failing to set more ambitious goals despite months of record-breaking heat on land and sea, climate experts said on Monday.

Parts of North America were some 10°C above the seasonal average this June, and smoke from forest fires blanketed Canada and the US East Coast in hazardous haze, with carbon emissions estimated at a record 160 million metric tons.

In India, one of the most climate vulnerable regions, deaths were reported to have spiked as a result of sustained high temperatures, and extreme heat has been recorded in Spain, Iran and Vietnam, raising fears that last year’s deadly summer could become routine.

“We’ve run out of time because change takes time,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climatologist at Australia’s University of New South Wales.

Average global surface air temperatures were above 1.5°C in early June

As envoys gathered in Bonn in early June to prepare for this year’s annual climate talks in November, average global surface air temperatures were more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels for several days, the EU-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said.

Though mean temperatures had temporarily breached the 1.5°C threshold before, this was the first time they had done so in the northern hemisphere summer that starts on June 1. Sea temperatures also broke April and May records.

As climate envoys from the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters prepare to meet next month, temperatures broke June records in the Chinese capital Beijing, and extreme heatwaves have hit the United States.

High land temperatures have been matched by those on the sea, with warming intensified by an El Nino event and other factors.

Rise in global sea temperatures

Global average sea surface temperatures hit 21°C in late March and have remained at record levels for the time of year throughout April and May. Australia’s weather agency warned that Pacific and Indian ocean sea temperatures could be 3°C warmer than normal by October.

“Warmer seas could also mean less wind and rain, creating a vicious circle that leads to even more heat,” said Annalisa Bracco, a climatologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Climate experts say the extent and frequency of extreme weather is increasing, and this year has also seen punishing droughts across the world, as well as a rare and deadly cyclone in Africa.

“Countries agreed in Paris in 2015 to try to keep long-term average temperature rises within 1.5°C, but there is now a 66 per cent likelihood the annual mean will cross the 1.5°C threshold for at least one whole year between now and 2027,” the World Meteorological Organization predicted in May.

The Worldwide Fund for Nature warned of a “worrying lack of momentum” during climate talks in Bonn this month, with little progress made on key issues like fossil fuels and finance ahead of November’s COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

Talks between the United States and China could resume next week with US climate envoy John Kerry set to visit Beijing, though few expect it to add momentum to climate negotiations.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Population calamity
Updated 22 Jul, 2024

Population calamity

Pakistan can also control its growth rate by following the examples of its peers and implementing functional family planning programmes and campaigns.
Blow to occupation
22 Jul, 2024

Blow to occupation

THE International Court of Justice has delivered a legal blow to the decades-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian...
Seeking Priya Kumari
22 Jul, 2024

Seeking Priya Kumari

PRIYA Kumari — the minor girl who vanished on Ashura in 2021 while serving water at a sabeel in Sukkur district ...
Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.