Climate officials mark World Environment Day by announcing 12 months of record high temperatures


(NEW YORK) — This year’s World Environment Day comes with a sobering reminder about the severity of global warming, according to climate experts.

New climate warnings were announced Wednesday, including that the planet is experiencing its warmest May on record – in turn bringing the tally to twelve consecutive months of record-breaking globally, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Places like Southeast Asia and India saw record early-summer high temperatures in the month of May.

The WMO report includes more evidence that the planet is very close to failing to meet the Paris Agreement climate targets, which aim to limit the average global temperature increase to 1.5 Celsius since the Industrial Revolution on the moderate emissions scenario, and a 2-degree Celsius rise in the worst-case scenario.

There also is an increasing likelihood that the world will temporarily surpass the 1.5 Celsius target of additional warming more often, which has already happened several times this year, according to the report.

And the heat is not expected to relent. There is an 86% likelihood that at least one of the next five years, between 2024 and 2028, will surpass 2023 to become the warmest on record, the WMO report found. There is also an 80% chance that at least one of those years will temporarily exceed the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold, according to the report.

The global average annual temperature for each year between 2024 and 2028 is predicted to be between 1.1 Celsius and 1.9 Celsius higher than the average temperature during the years of the pre-industrial reference period, from 1850 to 1900, also according to the report.

This relentless stretch of new global temperature records was driven by a strong El Niño event in the equatorial eastern Pacific and amplified by human-caused climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions, scientists found.

The data show that the world is in trouble, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres emphasized during remarks at the Natural History Museum in New York City on Wednesday morning.

Guterres urged world leaders, especially those in G20 countries, to do more to meet climate goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping people adapt to climate events, describing the present as “climate crunch time.”

“The battle for 1.5 degrees will be won or lost in the 2020s,” Guterres said, adding that current world leaders need to be the ones to take action.

Guterres called for 33 specific actions, broken into four categories: slashing emissions, protecting people from harm from climate events, boosting climate finance, and clamping down on the fossil fuel industry.

Those goals include cutting global production and consumption of fossil fuels 30% by 2030, which aligns with the recommendations of the U.N. climate reports.

Additionally, Guterres for the first time called for countries to regulate fossil fuel advertising in a manner similar to the tobacco industry, labeling it as harmful to human health. He also called on the public relations industry to stop representing fossil fuel clients and for news media and tech companies to stop accepting their advertising.

“We are playing Russian roulette with our planet,” he said. “We need an exit ramp off the highway to climate hell. And the truth is … we have control of the wheel.”

Stronger, more specific national climate plans are due at next year’s climate summit – COP30 – in Brazil, Guterres said.

World Environment Day is celebrated annually on June 5 to spotlight current environmental challenges. Saudi Arabia is this year’s host.

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