UN weather agency marks anniversary with dire warning about heating planet

Stark climate warnings come ahead of this year's World Meteorological Day, observed on Saturday, with the UN's weather agency confirming that global temperatures had "smashed" heat records in 2023 – raising ocean temperatures and melting glaciers faster than before. Even hotter conditions are expected for the year ahead.

An annual event, World Meteorological Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of weather and climate-related issues. It commemorates the establishment of the UN's World Meteorological Organisation in 1950.

This year the WMO's State of the Climate report confirmed preliminary data showing that 2023 was by far the hottest year ever recorded. It also caps off the warmest 10-year period on record.

WMO climate monitoring chief Omar Baddour said there was a high probability that 2024 would in turn break the record set in 2023.

The report showed "a planet on the brink", said UN chief Antonio Guterres.

"Earth is issuing a distress call," he said in a video message, warning that "fossil fuel pollution is sending climate chaos off the charts" and "changes are speeding up".

The WMO said that last year the average near-surface temperature was 1.45C above pre-industrial levels – dangerously close to the critical 1.5C threshold that countries agreed to avoid crossing in the 2015 Paris climate accords.

'Red alert'

The WMO did highlight one "glimmer of hope": surging renewable energy generation.

(with newswires)

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