The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the United Nations’ body of climate experts, has stated in its provisional report ‘State of the Climate in 2018’ that the last four years have been the hottest on record, whilst the top 20 hottest years have all occurred in the last 22 years. If current trends continue, global average temperatures look set to rise between 3C and 5C by 2100.
Global average temperatures for the first 10 months of 2018 were 0.98C higher than those from 1850 to 1900, according to five separate global datasets. Across the last five years, global temperatures were an average of 1.04C above above the 1850-1900 pre-Industrial baseline.
The report highlighted some of the key events related to climate change to have occurred in 2018, including flooding in Kerala, India, flooding in Japan, wildfires in Greece, California and Scandinavia and heat waves in the UK and across large areas of Europe.
A weak El Niño effect is being predicted for 2019, causing an even greater increase in global average temperatures, with slightly higher than average surface sea temperatures creating a more powerful warming effect. This year’s La Niña (where surface sea temperatures are lower than usual) has prevented 2018 from being even warmer.
Petteri Taalas, the WMO’s Secretary General said “We are the first generation to fully understand climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it.”
The report is among several that have been produced to guide delegates attending next week’s climate talks, which are taking place in Katowice, Poland. Their aim will be to agree on increased commitments to cut carbon emissions in order to meet the targets set by the Paris climate agreement of 2015.