Climate change: July will most likely be the world's warmest month on record - climate scientists say
Global average temperatures temporarily passed 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels during the first and third weeks of this month
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There are still a few days left before July draws to an end, but after record-breaking back-to-back heatwaves in much of the world, climate scientists are confident the month will go down in history.
The Copernicus Climate Change Service - the European Union's Earth observation programme - announced on Thursday (27 July) that the first three weeks of July have been the warmest three-week period on record - with global average temperatures temporarily exceeding 1.5C above preindustrial levels during the first and third weeks of the month.
The service said it was now "extremely likely" that July 2023 will be not only the hottest July, but also the hottest month ever. However, it also warned the July temperatures did not mean the world would permanently exceed the 1.5C limit specified in the Paris Agreement - which referred to long-term warming over many years.
July had already broken the record for hottest day ever on the 6th, the service reported, followed closely by July 5 and July 7 - with all three beating out the highest global average surface air temperature record set in August 2016.
The temperatures were related to heatwaves which engulfed large parts of North America, Asia and Europe, which along with wildfires in countries including Canada and Greece, had major impacts on people’s health, the environment and economies.
The Copernicus Climate Change Service said anthropogenic - or manmade - emissions were the driving force behind the rising temperatures.
The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) secretary general, Professor Petteri Taalas, added: "The extreme weather which has affected many millions of people in July is unfortunately the harsh reality of climate change and a foretaste of the future."
“The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is more urgent than ever before. Climate action is not a luxury but a must," he added.
WMO also predicted there was a 98% chance at least one of the next five years would break the record for the warmest year on record.
This comes the same day the UK's Met Office published its State of the Climate report, which warned last year’s scorching summer which saw the UK hit 40C for the first time in recorded history was "a sign of things to come" unless greenhouse gas emissions were controlled.
Downing Street faced criticism earlier in the week after it announced it would be scrutinising government's net-zero policies to see if they were “proportionate and pragmatic” - with many raising concern it would watering down green pledges it feared might be unpopular after a narrow by-election loss was attributed to an environmental policy.