Past seven years the hottest on record

Barry White

Along with other news outlets, the BBC web site https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-59915690 reports that the past seven years have been the hottest on record by a clear margin, according to new data from the European Union’s satellite system. The Copernicus Climate Change Service https://climate.copernicus.eu/ which provides information about the past, present and future climate, as well as tools to enable climate change mitigation and adaptation, reported that 2021 was the fifth-warmest year, with record-breaking temperatures in some regions. Their data is gathered from a constellation of Sentinel satellites that monitor the Earth from orbit, as well as measurements taken at ground level.

They also warn that the amount of warming gases in our atmosphere continued to increase.

Although governments are committed to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C to curb climate change scientists warn that time is fast running out with environmental, human and economic costs of hotter temperatures already being seen globally.

Last year was the fifth warmest on record, and temperature records in western US and Canada were broken by several degrees. Extreme wildfires in July and August burnt almost entire towns to the ground and killed hundreds. The seven hottest years ever recorded have been the last seven years.

“These events are a stark reminder of the need to change our ways, take decisive and effective steps toward a sustainable society and work towards reducing net carbon emissions,” Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, explains.

This should not really come as a surprise. Last August the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that a temperature rise of 1.5C by 2040 was unavoidable and urgent action was required if the world did not want to suffer a 4.5C rise by 2100 which would bring catastrophic results. This is why COP26 held in Glasgow last November was so important.

It’s timely that Index on Censorship, an organisation campaigning for freedom of expression, is organising a free online review of COP26 on 17 January. This follows a recent Guardian interview  where the president of COP26 and cabinet minister Alok Sharma MP expressed concern that the agreements made at the Glasgow summit will end up as “a bunch of meaningless promises”. And he should know, for it was Sharma who is perhaps best remembered for being tearful during the final conference session about the last minute changes forced on him by China and India concerning the future of coal. ‘Phasing out’ became ‘phasing down’ much to the anger of many nations present and no doubt to present and future generations.

Two months on from the summit, this meeting will take stock and reflect on the way ahead. What are the key pointers from the discussions in Glasgow? Who got to speak, and who did not? How can we keep up the momentum from COP26 to ensure positive and inclusive outcomes?

Focusing on the voices of indigenous peoples as a starting point, this event invites activists, experts and legal professionals to review COP26 and reflect on the future of climate action. The meeting will be chaired by Index on Censorship’s CEO Ruth Smeeth and features Bristol North West MP Darren Jones, Kate Gibbons Clifford Chance’s Global Knowledge partner, and Roger Leese, Litigation & Dispute Resolution Partner, co-head of Business & Human Rights practice and member of the ESG Risk Leadership Group, Clifford Chance. There will also be contributions from indigenous activists.

More about the speakers and how to register to attend this online meeting on Monday 17 January (6.00pm – 7.00pm) please go to: https://mailchi.mp/indexoncensorship/cop26-review-event?e=eb1c29341f

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