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875. Temperature Trends in 2023 and COP28 Stocktaking

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875. Temperature Trends in 2023 and COP28 Stocktaking

In early October, we struggled with stunning and extreme temperature fluctuations, a startling anomaly for this time of year. The Japan Meteorological Agency sounded the alarm, announcing that September 2023 had broken all previous records for heat in both eastern and western Japan since records began in 1946. The anomaly was not localized; similar unprecedented records are being documented worldwide.

On October 5, the World Meteorological Organization delivered a sobering assessment, indicating that the average global temperature for September 2023 was 16.38°C. This was 0.5°C higher than the previous high temperature recorded in September 2020, a staggering 1.75°C higher than the 1850-1900 record, and 0.93°C higher than the more recent 1991-2020 baseline. In essence, since June 2023, the world has experienced an unprecedented rise in temperatures, both on land and at sea. Average temperatures from January to September 2023 exceeded the previous record by 0.05°C, which is a significant increase of 1.4°C over the 1850-1900 average for the same period, as observed in 2016. Of particular concern is Europe, which experienced its hottest temperatures on record, exceeding the 2020 record by a significant 1.1°C. Sea surface temperatures for September (between 60°S-60°N) soared to 20.92°C, setting an all-time high for the month and trailing only the scorching August of 2023. Meanwhile, Antarctica experienced a worrying decline in winter sea ice extent, falling to its lowest level for the season. Adding to the severity of the situation, the El Niño phenomenon is expected to continue through the end of the year, potentially triggering a domino effect on both the environment and society at large.

This alarming data on the global average temperature for September 2023 has been presented in a comprehensive report to be discussed at the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Scheduled to take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from late November to early December 2023, COP28 will conduct a thorough assessment of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The goal is to evaluate progress made in curbing greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of keeping the global average temperature increase well below 2°C, and ideally below 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels.

A recent article in One Earth made a strong case for increasing the ambition of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to effectively achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement. Although the NDCs presented at COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021 offer a glimmer of hope for potentially limiting global warming to below 2°C this century, they fall significantly short of the more stringent goal of limiting warming to below 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement. As we approach COP28 this year, an important Global Stocktake (GTS) is planned to assess global progress in implementing NDCs, a critical step towards the Paris Agreement. It is unequivocally clear that a decisive and more ambitious commitment is an imperative if we are to achieve the 1.5°C goal by the end of this century.

This analysis focuses on three critical areas that deserve special attention from national policymakers in the context of the COP28 GTS: non-CO2 gases, carbon dioxide removal (CDR), and the urgent need to halt and reverse deforestation.

On carbon dioxide removal (CDR), the report highlights the urgent need for a significant increase in research and development (R&D), coupled with rigorous evaluation and validation of practices such as afforestation, reforestation, and innovative engineering technologies such as biofuel CO2 capture and sequestration. While investment in CDR has increased in recent years, it remains concentrated in a few countries and is primarily focused on afforestation and direct air capture (DAC) technologies. This uneven concentration contributes to the high cost of CDR. The discussion argues for a broad investment approach that includes a diverse range of CDR instruments. It also calls for strict application of reporting and verification mechanisms to avoid double counting. Recognizing that many nations will rely on carbon trading mechanisms, the discussion encourages the promotion of CDR synergies such as biodiversity, food and water security at different scales, be it local, regional or global.

In the area of halting and reversing deforestation, the discussion underscores Glasgow's commitment to zero deforestation and land use change. It highlights the urgent need to monitor and curb unsustainable land use practices in tropical forest areas, often driven by cash crops such as palm and soy. The discourse places particular emphasis on providing incentives for sustainable forest management.

Taken together, these three critical issues underscore the need for innovation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable resource management, and transformative behavioral change in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. These facets are fundamental to steering humanity toward the ambitious 1.5°C goal set by the Paris Agreement.


Gokul Iyer et al, Taking stock of nationally determined contributions: Continued ratcheting of ambition is critical to limit global warming to 1.5°C, One Earth (2023). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2023.08.019


Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Information Program)

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