2020 with 2016 as world's hottest year on record

2020 has tied with 2016 as the world's warmest year on record.

The European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service said on Friday (December 8) that rounds off the world’s hottest decade as the impacts of climate change intensified.

In 2020, wildfires were seen in Australia, California and even Siberia.

Europe experienced its hottest year on record.

And warming in the Arctic shrank the ice covering the polar ocean to record-setting levels in July and October.

Temperatures there and in northern Siberia averaged more than 42°F above a 30-year average used as a baseline.

August saw the highest temperature ever reliably recorded when a California heatwave pushed the temperature of the Mojave Desert up to 129.92°F.

Freja Vamborg, a Copernicus senior scientist, explains the long-term implications:

"We know that temperatures globally have increased by over a degree since the pre-industrial era. Indeed the past six years have been the warmest six years on record. And a large part of the reason why they were so warm is due to this warming trend."

2020 was also synonymous with the COVID-19 crisis.

And climate activists hailed global lockdowns as a win for slashing greenhouse emissions.

Freja says it's a bit more complicated than that:

"And if we look at a year like last year due to Covid there was a reduction in emissions - at least some emissions, fossil emissions for instance. But that's just a reduction in emissions. We're still adding to the atmosphere because it's not the emissions that count, it's the concentration in the end... I got a question by someone else as 'should we lose hope if a year like a COVID year doesn't even help', but the answer is that it's not that it hasn't helped it's just that it's not visibly helped because you're not expecting that to be visible until you have several of those years which in the end will make a difference."

Scientists said the latest data underscored the need for countries and corporations to slash greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough to reach the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and to avoid catastrophic climate change.