World experienced hottest January on record and breaches 1.5C warming threshold

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The world has just experienced its warmest January on record, Europe’s climate change service Copernicus said.

Every month since June has been the world's hottest on record, compared with the corresponding month in previous years.

Data gathered by Copernicus found surface air temperatures around the globe reached 13.14C in January. That’s 0.70C above the 1991 to 2020 January average and 0.12C higher than the previous record set in2020.

Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Corpernicus Climate Change Service, said: “2024 starts with another record-breaking month - not only is it the warmest January on record but we have also just experienced a 12-month period of more than 1.5C above the pre-industrial reference period.

"Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to stop global temperatures increasing."

It followed 2023 becoming the hottest on record, with temperatures exceeding those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years. July 2023 was the hottest month on record, while Antarctic sea ice wasalso at an historic low.

Climate scientists say the world is on track for around 2.9C of warming without further action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

El Niño has powered the record heat over the past 12 months. The cycle, which revolves around trade winds and ocean temperatures in the Pacific, affects weather patterns across the globe. It has been linked to the recent deadly wildfires in Chile and flooding in California.

It comes after the UK experienced its hottest January day on record after temperatures soared to 19.6C in the Scottish Highlands last month.

Countries agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement to try to prevent global warming surpassing 1.5C, to avoid it unleashing more severe and irreversible consequences.

Despite exceeding 1.5C in a 12-month period, the world has not yet breached the Paris Agreement target, which refers to an average global temperature over decades.

Some scientists have said the goal can no longer realistically be met, but have urged governments to act faster to cut CO2 emissions to limit overshooting the target - and the deadly heat, drought and rising seas that this would inflict on people and ecosystems - as much as possible.