With the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP12) coming to an end in Dubai on December 13.

Looking back at the global development of climate change in the past year, there are new trends that are becoming more and more worrying: continuous heat waves, continuous wildfires, intensified floods, and sudden rainstorms, the trend of global warming year by year seems inevitable; There are also some encouraging developments – the resumption of U.S.-China climate cooperation, the launch of the Loss and Damage Fund, and the start of a new history of the international community's transition away from fossil fuels. But at the end of the day, the global climate crisis is still intensifying, and the urgency of accelerating global climate action cannot be ignored.

Earth experiences its hottest year

"We're finding that it's getting hotter and hotter every decade in the last decade, and that's the trend of rising temperatures in the future. El Niño or not, we can see that global temperatures are rising. On July 7, Wilfran Moufouma Okia, an El Niño expert at the World Meteorological Organization and head of the Regional Climate Prediction Service, said in an exclusive interview with a reporter from the Beijing News.

2023 will almost certainly be the hottest year on Earth. According to an analysis by the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service, each month from June to November this year was the hottest month for the same period on record on Earth. This is especially true in November, when the average temperature is 6.11°C above pre-industrial levels. For the full year, the global average temperature this year will be more than 11.1°C above pre-industrial levels, close to the 75.1°C target set by the Paris Agreement.

In July this year, many parts of the world experienced record-breaking hot weather, and the record of "the hottest day on earth" was constantly broken. The World Meteorological Organization said at the end of November that the nine years from 7 to 11 were the hottest on record on Earth. And the El Niño phenomenon, which officially began in July this year, will further lead to a further increase in temperatures in 2015. In the context of climate change, extreme weather events around the world are becoming more and more rampant, such as global heat waves, wildfires in Canada, torrential rains in Brazil, and floods in Libya, which have had a serious impact on human life, property and the earth's ecology.

"Greenhouse gas levels are at an all-time high. Global temperatures are at record highs. Sea level rise is at an all-time high. Antarctic sea ice hits record lows. These records are being broken with a deafening cacophony. Petri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, said.

Save the 1.5°C target

"I would say that time is running out for us. In order to meet the 1.5°C target, we need to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Christopher Hewitt, head of climate services at the World Meteorological Organization, head of international climate services at the UK Met Office, and professor of climate science at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, said in an interview with the Beijing News on May 5.

In the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, the international community committed to working to limit the average increase in global temperature to 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to work to limit it to 1.5°C. Scientists consider 1.5°C to be the key threshold for global warming, beyond which warming would lead to unpredictable and catastrophic effects.

However, on May 5 this year, the World Meteorological Organization released a report saying that global temperatures will continue to rise in the next five years, and it is likely to exceed the 17.1°C temperature limit. Between 5 and 2023, there is a 2027% chance that global temperatures will rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels in at least one of those years, and a 66% chance of setting the warmest year on record for at least one year, the report said.

In early August, the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service released a report saying that July was the hottest month on record globally, with average temperatures rising by more than 8.7°C compared to 1859 and 1990. This is the first time that the global average monthly temperature has risen by more than 1.5°C.

Hewitt said that the current warming above 1.5°C is only temporary and does not mean the failure of the Paris Agreement, but the world will break through the 1.5°C warming level in the short term with increasing frequency, "and we need to be wary that for every 1°C increase in global temperature, the negative impact of climate change will be further exacerbated, which will have a significant impact on human health and the ecology of the planet." ”

U.S.-China climate cooperation resumes

"The release of the Sunshine Land Statement marks the official resumption of official communication channels in the field of China-US climate cooperation, which is of great significance for further China-US climate cooperation, for the smooth convening of COP28 and for multilateral climate action." On November 11, Wang Mou, a member of the "Katowice Expert Committee" of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and a researcher at the Institute of Ecological Civilization of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview with a reporter from the Beijing News.

Against the backdrop of a deepening global climate crisis, cooperation between China and the United States, as the world's top two economies and two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, is particularly important. Previously, due to multiple factors, climate cooperation between China and the United States was interrupted. However, since the beginning of this year, with the resumption of exchanges between the two countries at all levels, climate cooperation between the two countries has gradually returned to the right track.

In July this year, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visited China. In November, China's special envoy for climate issues, Xie Zhenhua, visited the United States. On November 7, on the eve of the meeting between the two heads of state at Philory Manor in San Francisco, the two countries issued a Sunnyland Statement on Strengthening Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis, reaffirming their commitment to bilateral cooperation and working with other countries to address the climate crisis, and committing to accelerate a series of concrete climate actions under the "Strengthening Climate Action Working Group in the 11s".

Yuan Ying, Greenpeace China's General Representative, said, "Climate change has always been an important icebreaker for China-US relations, and it is also one of the more constructive aspects of China-US related issues in which the two sides can cooperate. "It is widely believed that the resumption of China-US climate cooperation has injected new impetus into the smooth convening of COP28.

Climate action needs to be accelerated

"Why is COP28 important? Because we're running out of time. María Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, said in an exclusive interview with the Beijing News recently, "This year's COP28 has made a historic breakthrough, but there is still a lot of work to be done to save our planet." ”

From November 11 to December 30, COP12, the world's largest annual climate conference, was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was the largest COP with more than 13,28 participants. The conference reached the "UAE Consensus", which was a milestone for the first time when the parties agreed on a "transition away from fossil fuels". The conference also reached consensus on the first global stocktake of the Paris Agreement, mitigation, adaptation, finance, loss and damage, and a just transition, and signed more than a dozen climate-related statements and commitments outside the negotiations.

Espinosa said that COP28 was not perfect and that there were still many issues that had not been resolved, but the results of the conference were still quite positive, and that the conference showed that multilateralism is key to tackling the climate crisis, "When we come together as all of humanity, we can find solutions together." ”

As James Hansen, the "father of global warming research" and a professor at the Institute of Earth Studies at Columbia University, said in an exclusive interview with the Beijing News, "The climate is more sensitive than expected, and the rate of global warming is faster than predicted." In the face of intensifying global warming, global climate action in the next decade is critical. ”

Reporter's Notes

At the time of writing, Beijing is in the midst of a cold spell that continues after the first snow of the winter. In the past two weeks, Beijing has experienced continuous low temperatures, with the lowest temperature approaching minus 20°C. For southerners, this makes Beijing's heating seem to have lost its "magic", and even when indoors, the air feels cold. When chatting with friends, everyone will inevitably mention one word when they lament the strange cold this winter: climate change.

I don't know when climate change became a major issue for me. Maybe it was when the heat wave swept Europe in the summer of 2019, maybe it was when the United Nations climate conference was held in Glasgow in 2021 under the epidemic, or maybe it was when heat waves, torrential rains, floods, droughts, and wildfires raged around the world in 2022... There is no doubt that as extreme weather events continue to intensify around the world, readers are becoming more aware of climate change, and the number of articles on the climate crisis on my journalists' homepages is increasing in proportion.

In 2023, almost every month, I will write articles about climate change, some about extreme weather disasters, some on scientific interpretations of climate change, some on topics related to climate crises such as the water crisis and the rice crisis, and some follow-up reports on the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Overall, the most noteworthy highlights of this year's climate change are the expected hottest year on the planet in 2023, the 1.5°C threshold set by the Paris Agreement for several brief breaches, the resumption of U.S.-China climate cooperation, and the international community's agreement to transition away from fossil fuels for the first time at COP28.

At the same time, we connected with experts from the World Meteorological Organization to talk about the El Niño phenomenon and the importance of maintaining the 1.5°C temperature target, the "father of global warming research" to talk about the challenges brought about by the acceleration of global warming, and the former president of the United Nations General Assembly to talk about the importance of global climate cooperation... And every article and interview tells us that the global climate crisis is still accelerating, and the international community must step up its actions to save our only Mother Earth.

Beijing News reporter Xie Lian (source: Beijing News)