Global daily average temperature 2C above pre-industrial norm for first time

The daily global average temperature rose more than 2C above the pre-industrial norm for this time of year for the first time last week, according to the EU’s climate change service.

On Friday the temperature reached 2.07C above the temperature average for 1850-1900, a larger increase than at any other time in recorded history, while provisional figures show the following day to have reached 2.06C.

Copernicus posted the update on the social media site X, formerly Twitter, showing a sharp rise in the global average temperature this month.

Its analysts said this is due to a sudden and steep increase in warmth over the land areas of the northern hemisphere on top of the long-term trend of global warming through greenhouse gases and the naturally occurring effect of El Nino in the tropical eastern Pacific.

This temperature is not the highest absolute recording – set in July which is considered likely to be the hottest month in the last 120,000 years – but the furthest departure from the average temperature for the time of year compared with pre-industrial times.

Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said: “Global temperature records are being broken with alarming regularity.

“The breaches of the 1.5C and 2C thresholds were to be expected – through generalised warming and climate variability – they are still shockingly impactful.

“As Cop28 is just 10 days away, it’s crucial to understand what these figures signify for our collective future.”

Countries are aiming to keep the average global temperature within 2C and if possible 1.5C as part of the Paris Agreement, though this measure is taken over a period of around 20 years and so a daily breach does not mean this goal has failed.

Scientists have said that the daily averages will vary but these temperature boundaries will be met more frequently on a daily, monthly and yearly basis as long as global emissions continue to rise.

The Copernicus readings come as the UN warned that current emissions reduction policies have the Earth on track to warm by an average of almost 3C by the end of the century, which many experts have said would be catastrophic for humans and wildlife.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said humanity is “addicted” to fossil fuels, which he described as the “poisoned root” of the climate crisis.

If the world is to keep within the 1.5C boundary there needs to be a 42% reduction in emissions by 2030, with the window of opportunity rapidly closing, the UN said.

Dr Paulo Ceppi, a climate scientist from Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute, said: “Recording average global temperatures of 2C above pre-industrial levels is concerning, but not surprising.

“The world has not yet reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the result is the ongoing warming of the climate.

“We will only see warming stabilise when the world moves away from fossil fuels and reduces emissions to net zero.”