Global temperatures in 2018 are set to be the fourth highest on record, the UN has said, stressing the urgent need for action to rein in runaway warming of the planet.
In a report released ahead of the climate summit in Poland, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) pointed out that the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years.
They found that 2018 is on course to be the 4th warmest year on record and we’re the ‘last generation to be able to do something about it’.
The UN agency said in its provisional report that ‘the past four years – 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 – are also the four warmest years in the series’.
The ‘warming trend is obvious and continuing,’ WMO chief Petteri Taalas told reporters in Geneva.
Other tell-tale signs of climate change, including sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification and sea-ice and glacier melt continue, whilst extreme weather left a trail of devastation on all continents.
Figures released by the WMO showed that the planet was nearly 1C above pre-industrial levels for the first ten months of this year.
The temperature for 2018 was recorded from five independent data sets.
If these trends continue temperatures could rise by as much as 3.5C by 2100, researchers warn.
The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.
It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2C (3.6F) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C (2.7F)’.
‘We are not on track to meet climate change targets and rein in temperature increases,’ said Mr Taalas.
‘Greenhouse gas concentrations are once again at record levels and if the current trend continues we may see temperature increases 3-5C by the end of the century.
‘If we exploit all known fossil fuel resources, the temperature rise will be considerably higher,’ he said.
‘It is worth repeating once again that we are the first generation to fully understand climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it,’ said Mr Taalas.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on Global Warming of 1.5C reported that the average global temperature for the decade 2006-2015 was 0.86C above the pre-industrial baseline.
The average increase above the same baseline for the most recent decade 2009-2018 was about 0.93C.