World exceeds 1.5°C warming limit over 12 months, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

Ivalmir Silva searches for water on Puraquequara Lake, which has been affected by drought, in Manaus Brazil, October 6, 2023. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
Top nature and climate change news: Global warming exceeds critical 1.5C year-long target for first time, and more
Image: REUTERS/Bruno Kelly
  • This weekly round-up contains key nature and climate news from the past week.
  • Top nature and climate stories: World experiences hottest 12 months; Looming La Niña set to bring rains to Asia and dry Americas; Autonomous drone to survey mountains beneath Antarctica's ice caps.

1. Global warming exceeds critical 1.5°C year-long target for first time

We have just lived through the hottest 12-month period ever recorded, with average temperatures breaching the 1.5°C climate target for the first time.

January 2024 was the hottest global January on record, and the eighth month in succession of record temperature highs.

Average global sea surface temperatures for January 2024 broke another temperature record at 20.97°C, exceeding the previous 2016 record January by 0.26°C.

Daily sea surface temperature 60°S-60°N
Record daily sea surface temperatures for January.
Image: Copernicus ECMWF

Breaching the Paris Agreement climate target across an entire year sets an alarming precedent, but urgent action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can still slow warming, say climate scientists.

2. Looming La Niña set to bring rains to Asia and dry Americas

The La Niña event typically turns Pacific Ocean temperatures unusually cold and disrupts global weather patterns, causing higher precipitation in Australia, Southeast Asia and India, and dryer conditions in some parts of the Americas.

"The vast majority of weather models are pointing towards a weak La Nina in the second half of the year or towards the last quarter. One out of maybe 25 weather models is showing a strong La Niña," Chris Hyde, a meteorologist at US-based company Maxar told Reuters.

Changes in weather patterns can upset global crop yields, depending on the intensity of the event and the time of year it happens.

US climatologists are predicting La Niña to arrive in late summer or shortly after.

3. News in brief: Other top nature and climate stories this week

The circulation of the Atlantic Ocean circulation is a nearing ‘devastating’ tipping point, according to a new study published in Study Advances. Amoc (the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation) is a critical system of ocean currents important to climate regulation and its breakdown could have dramatic impacts.

An autonomous drone plane will survey the mountains beneath Antarctica's ice caps, to help experts from the British Antarctic Survey assess ice melt-rate to forecast the impact of climate change.

Chile is aiming to regrow its National Botanic Gardens, which were destroyed by deadly wildfires that ravaged central parts of the country and killed more than 130 people.

NASA has launched its PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) satellite, which will study microscopic life in water and microscopic particles in the air from hundreds of miles above the planet.

The European Commission has recommended an ambitious 90% reduction in EU net greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. The new EU Commission and Parliament will need to approve the final target following a period of debate, Reuters reports.

Centre: Nature and Climate

How is the World Economic Forum fighting the climate crisis?

The Global Risks Report 2023 ranked failure to mitigate climate change as one of the most severe threats in the next two years, while climate- and nature- related risks lead the rankings by severity over the long term.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Nature and Climate is a multistakeholder platform that seeks to safeguard our global commons and drive systems transformation. It is accelerating action on climate change towards a net-zero, nature-positive future.

Learn more about our impact:

  • Scaling up green technologies: Through a partnership with the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, and over 65 global businesses, the First Movers Coalition has committed $12 billion in purchase commitments for green technologies to decarbonize the cement and concrete industry.
  • 1 trillion trees: Over 90 global companies have committed to conserve, restore and grow more than 8 billion trees in 65 countries through the 1t.org initiative – which aims to achieve 1 trillion trees by 2030.
  • Sustainable food production: Our Food Action Alliance is engaging 40 partners who are working on 29 flagship initiatives to provide healthy, nutritious, and safe foods in ways that safeguard our planet. In Vietnam, it supported the upskilling of 2.2 million farmers and aims to provide 20 million farmers with the skills to learn and adapt to new agricultural standards.
  • Eliminating plastic pollution: Our Global Plastic Action Partnership is bringing together governments, businesses and civil society to shape a more sustainable world through the eradication of plastic pollution. In Ghana, more than 2,000 waste pickers are making an impact cleaning up beaches, drains and other sites.
  • Protecting the ocean: Our 2030 Water Resources Group has facilitated almost $1 billion to finance water-related programmes, growing into a network of more than 1,000 partners and operating in 14 countries/states.
  • Circular economy: Our SCALE 360 initiative is reducing the environmental impacts of value chains within the fashion, food, plastics and electronics industries, positively impacting over 100,000 people in 60 circular economy interventions globally.

Want to know more about our centre’s impact or get involved? Contact us.

Migrating monarch butterfly populations in Mexico have dropped to their second-lowest-ever level during the 2023-2024 wintering season, with year-on-year numbers falling 59% due to extreme heat, drought and climate change, officials said.

Iceland's third volcanic eruption since December in an area south of the capital Reykjavik has caused significant infrastructure damage, leaving residents without hot water during freezing winter temperatures, the country's Prime Minister told public broadcaster RUV.

4. More on the nature and climate crisis on Agenda

Hurricanes are becoming less frequent but more powerful due to the climate crisis, prompting calls for a new "Category 6" to be created to record superstorm wind speeds exceeding 309km/h.

Annual planetary boundary health checks will better inform decision-making and allow leaders to respond more effectively to the impact of climate change. here's how.

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