June warmest; temperatures rose 1.5 deg C above average every month

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A man covers his head for protection from the scorching sun on a hot summer day, in New Delhi.

A man covers his head for protection from the scorching sun on a hot summer day, in New Delhi.

New Delhi: With millions of people across five continents experiencing scorching heat last month, the European Union's (EU) climate agency, Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), confirmed on Monday that June was the warmest on record.

It also marked the 12th consecutive month with global temperatures reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average.

According to scientists at C3S, every month since June last year has been the warmest such month on record.

In January, the world completed an entire year with the mean surface air temperature exceeding the 1.5-degree threshold. June was the 12th consecutive month with monthly average temperatures above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.

At the 2015 UN climate talks in Paris, world leaders committed to limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. However, a permanent breach of the 1.5-degree Celsius limit specified in the Paris Agreement refers to long-term warming over a 20 or 30-year period.

Earth's global surface temperature has already increased by around 1.2 degrees Celsius compared to the average in 1850-1900 due to the rapidly-increasing concentration of greenhouse gases -- primarily carbon dioxide and methane -- in the atmosphere. This warming is considered the reason behind record droughts, wildfires and floods worldwide.

According to new data, June 2024 was the warmest on record, with an average surface air temperature of 16.66 degrees Celsius, 0.67 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average for the month and 0.14 degrees Celsius above the previous high set in June 2023.

"The month was 1.5 degrees Celsius above the estimated June average for 1850-1900, the designated pre-industrial reference period, making it the 12th consecutive month to reach or break the 1.5-degree threshold," C3S said in a statement.

It was also the 13th consecutive month of record-high temperatures, a result of the combined effect of the 2023-24 El Niño event and human-caused climate change. While unusual, a similar streak of monthly global temperature records happened previously in 2015-2016.

"This is more than a statistical oddity and highlights a large and continuing shift in our climate. Even if this specific streak of extremes ends at some point, we are bound to see new records being broken as the climate continues to warm. This is inevitable, unless we stop adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the oceans," said Carlo Buontempo, the director of C3S.