January 2024 Shatters 1.5°C Threshold : What’s in store for the rest of 2024?

Thailand city view in heatwave summer season high temperature from global warming effect by coffeekai from Getty Images
The global mean temperature has been breached, in January 2024. The average worldwide temperature rose above 1.5° Celsius for the first time, as per the European climate agency.
For the first time in recorded history, the world has surpassed the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for an entire year, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). This alarming milestone was reached as last month was declared the hottest January on record since C3S began its observations in 1950, with surface air temperatures averaging 0.70 degrees Celsius higher than the January average from 1991 to 2020. This recent peak in global temperatures eclipses the previous January record set in 2020 by 0.12 degrees.


Global mean temperature breaches 1.5° Celsius threshold

The unprecedented global warmth, driven by human-induced climate change and exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon, which warms the Pacific Ocean’s surface waters, made the past year the hottest on record. Despite this surge past 1.5 degrees Celsius, experts clarify that this does not signify a breach of the 2015 Paris Agreement’s long-term goals, which aim to maintain global warming well below two degrees Celsius and ideally limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius over several decades to mitigate the most severe impacts of climate change.
However, the persistent rise in temperatures has led some scientists to question the feasibility of the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, urging an accelerated effort to phase out fossil fuels and slash greenhouse gas emissions. “Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to stop global temperatures from increasing,” emphasized Samantha Burgess, C3S deputy director, highlighting the urgent need for action.
Human-caused climate change — coupled with the El Niño weather pattern warming ocean surface waters in the Pacific — led to last year being Earth’s hottest on record.
“It is a significant milestone to see the global mean temperature for a 12-month period exceed 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures for the first time,” said Matt Patterson, an atmospheric physicist from the University of Oxford, as Reuters reported.
The past eight months, starting from June 2023, have successively set records for being the hottest compared to their respective months in previous years, culminating in a year that crossed the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark, underscoring the accelerating pace of global warming and the critical need for concerted international efforts to combat climate change.