For the first time on record, the average global temperature has exceeded 1.5 degree Celsius over a 12-month period, according to new data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

Last month was also the hottest January worldwide since C3S records began in 1950, with an average air surface temperature that was 0.70 degrees Celsius higher than the month’s average from 1991 to 2020. The previous heat record for January — set in 2020 — was 0.12 degrees cooler.

“The global mean temperature for the past twelve months (Feb 2023 – Jan 2024) is the highest on record, at 0.64°C above the 1991-2020 average and 1.52°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average,” C3S said in a new report.

Human-caused climate change — coupled with the El Niño weather pattern warming ocean surface waters in the Pacific — led to last year being Earth’s hottest on record.

“It is a significant milestone to see the global mean temperature for a 12-month period exceed 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures for the first time,” said Matt Patterson, an atmospheric physicist from the University of Oxford, as Reuters reported.

Exceeding the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold over the course of a year does not mean the 2015 Paris Agreement has been breached, as that target refers to the average global temperature over decades.

The Paris Agreement’s goal is to keep global heating well below two degrees Celsius, to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Some scientists believe that the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark is no longer a realistic objective, and have encouraged governments to speed up the phasing out of fossil fuels to reduce emissions and limit warming.

“Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to stop global temperatures increasing,” said Samantha Burgess, C3S deputy director, as reported by Reuters.

For the past eight months — since June of 2023 — each successive month has been the hottest ever recorded in comparison with the same month in prior years, culminating in an annual average that breached 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“This far exceeds anything acceptable,” Bob Watson, a former United Nations climate chair, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “Look what’s happened this year with only 1.5C – we’ve seen floods, we’ve seen droughts, we’ve seen heatwaves and wildfires all over the world.”

Scientists in the United States have warned that there is a one-in-three likelihood that 2024 will be hotter than 2023, with a 99 percent chance that this year will be among the top five warmest ever recorded, Reuters reported.

“We are heading towards a catastrophe if we don’t fundamentally change the way we produce and consume energy within a few years,” Dan Jorgensen, global climate policy minister of Denmark, told Reuters. “We don’t have long.”

Scientists believe global warming will essentially cease when the world reaches net zero carbon emissions. Cutting emissions by half by 2030 is viewed as especially important, however.

“That means we can ultimately control how much warming the world experiences, based on our choices as a society, and as a planet,” said Zeke Hausfather, Berkeley Earth climate scientist, according to the BBC.

The original article can be found here