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Global temperatures rise while political support declines

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Global temperatures have increased by 1.52°C across an entire year for the first time according to data released from Copernicus Climate Change Service, surpassing the threshold of 1.5°C agreed as part of 2015 Paris Agreement.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, more than 190 countries committed to limit the increase in the average global temperatures to well below 2°C, aiming for no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in an attempt to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The effects were clear, with 2023 seeing an increase in extreme weather events across the globe including tornadoes, month-long cyclones and floods, unprecedented draughts and uncontrollable wildfires, as well as heatwaves in spring.

The data, relating to the period from February 2023 to January 2024 shows:

  • January 2024 to be the eighth month in a row that is the warmest on record for the respective month of the year.
  • The global mean temperature for the past twelve months (Feb 2023 – Jan 2024) is the highest on record, at 0.64°C above the 1991-2020 average and 1.52°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.
  • European temperatures varied in January 2024 from much below the 1991-2020 average over the Nordic countries to much above average over the south of the continent.
  • Outside Europe, temperatures were well above average over eastern Canada, north-western Africa, the Middle East and central Asia, and below average over western Canada, the central USA and most of eastern Siberia.
  • El Niño began to weaken in the equatorial Pacific, but marine air temperatures in general remained at an unusually high level.
  • The average global sea surface temperature (SST) for January over 60°S–60°N reached 20.97°C, a record for January, 0.26°C warmer than the previous warmest January, in 2016, and second highest value for any month in the ERA5 dataset, within 0.01°C of the record from August 2023 (20.98°C).
  • Since 31 January, the daily SST for 60°S–60°N has reached new absolute records, surpassing the previous highest values from 23rd and 24th of August 2023.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has made a U-turn on its Green Prosperity Plan, in a move that has prompted an angry response from environmental groups.

In 2021 Leader Sir Keir Starmer pledged to spend £28bn per year on clean energy solutions including battery manufacturing, energy efficiency measures, hydrogen and wind power, to turn the UK into a “clean energy superpower”. Questions and debate followed as to the source of this funding, especially bearing in mind a separate pledge to reduce government debt. This week Sir Starmer insisted that there was “no choice” but to dramatically reduce the level of new investment, if his party were to gain power, from £28bn to £4.7bn per year, stating that it would be “irresponsible” to stand by the 2021 pledge, as a result of the Conservative Government “crashing the economy”.

Speaking to the BBC, the co-leader of the Green Party, Carla Denyer said:

“This is a massive backward step for the climate, economy and jobs. The UK’s future prosperity is dependent on greening our economy and that requires green investment. There is a risk that this U-turn will push businesses to take their investments elsewhere”.

Emma Pinchbeck, the CEO of Energy UK said:

“The party has been engaging constructively with business over recent months, but retaining the confidence of the market is dependent on not making U-turns that damage the UK’s investability.”

As perhaps expected, The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been deeply critical of this development, stating that Sir Starmer “confirmed he doesn’t have a plan for Britain” by dropping his flagship green policy. Some observers have highlighted this as “a bit rich” considering Mr Sunak’s own weakening of environmental policy a few short months ago.  


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