Tuesday, 17 January 2023

2022 was one of the hottest years on record

The world just keeps getting hotter: 2022 was the fifth or sixth warmest year ever, according to research by the World Meteorological Authority (WMO). Six international datasets analyzed by the authority show that last year the average global temperature was around 1.15°C above pre-industrial levels, making 2022 the eighth consecutive year that the mercury has been at least 1°C above pre-1900 levels.

The last eight years were earth’s warmest years on record, the WMO said, warning that a “likelihood of – temporarily – breaching the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement is increasing with time.”

Large parts of the world faced their hottest years ever: Large parts of western Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and China, South Korea, New Zealand, north-western Africa and the Horn of Africa all recorded their hottest years ever, according to research by the EU’s Earth Observation Programme, Copernicus.

The last time CO2 levels were this high homosapiens weren’t yet a thing: CO2 levels reached their highest levels in 2 mn years in 2022, according to Copernicus. Initial analysis of satellite data indicates that CO2 concentrations rose by around 2.1 parts per mn (ppm) and methane was up by 12 ppb. This is the highest level of CO2 for more than 2 mn years while methane levels are at an 800k-year high, according to the EU’s Earth Observation Programme.

Saved by La Niña: Temperatures would have been higher in 2022 had it not been for La Niña, a climate pattern that produces cooler summers and has been estimated to lower global temperatures by about 0.2°C.

But only temporarily: “This cooling impact will be short-lived and will not reverse the long-term warming trend caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in our atmosphere,” the WMO said. La Niña is expected to weaken this year and be replaced by its warmer cousin El Niño.

2024 could be the year we fail to achieve an important climate goal: The UK Met Office said last week that global temperatures could rise beyond 1.5°C for the first time ever in 2024 should El Niño replace La Niña this year.

1.5°C is key: Under the terms of the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to reduce emissions in an attempt to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that exceeding this limit would significantly increase the risk of severe weather events and irreversible climate change.

Egypt isn’t exempt from any of this: As in other areas of the world, temperatures in Egypt have been on the rise. World Bank figures indicate that the country experienced its third hottest year on record in 2021, and the country recorded its highest-ever temperature in 2018 when the mercury reached 49°C in Kharga in June.

It was only slightly less hot last year: Temperatures went as high as 46°C in Aswan in June, while Luxor recorded a high of 45°C and Cairo reached 43°C.

Expect an even hotter summer this year: With La Niña in effect for the past three winters, Egypt has been spared even hotter summers since 2019. But with the transition to El Niño expected this year, expect summertime temperatures to go higher in the coming few years.

Where are we headed? Projections for future temperatures in Egypt depend on the extent of emissions reductions in the coming years. In its Sixth Assessment Report published in 2021, the IPCC charted five trajectories for the rest of the century according to how much CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

The best we can hope for: In the best case scenario — where emissions are cut to net zero by 2050 — the average highest temperature will measure 44.17°C between 2040 and 2059, before declining to 43.87°C in the final two decades of the century.

And the situation we really want to avoid: Should global emissions double by 2100, Egypt will be facing average maximum summer temperatures of 45.24°C between 2040 and 2059 and 47.74°C in 2080-2099.

Your top green economy stories for the week:

  • HSBC part funds KarmSolar project: KarmSolar has received EGP 83 mn in funding from HSBC to build a second micro-solar grid in Farafra by 3Q 2023.
  • FM and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry is in the UAE for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week where he is giving a speech and participating in discussions about climate change.
  • Aswan solar tender is taking longer than planned: The Electricity Ministry is still working on the forthcoming tender for six solar facilities in Aswan, which was expected to go live in 4Q 2022.

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