World leaders discuss climate action at Morocco summit

UN predicts 2016 will be hottest year on record as representatives meet on Paris accord

Moroccan and international demonstrators protest on the sidelines of the COP22 meeting in Marrakech, Morocco. Photograph: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Moroccan and international demonstrators protest on the sidelines of the COP22 meeting in Marrakech, Morocco. Photograph: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

 

It is very likely that 2016 will be the hottest year on record, the United Nations’ weather agency has said.

The World Meteorological Organisation said preliminary data shows global temperatures for this year at 1.2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

A contributory factor was a spike in the early months of the year, caused by an El Niño event (an abnormal weather pattern caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean).

The latest data shows that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century – with 1988 recording the highest temperature of the 20th century.

The Geneva-based organisation warns that Arctic sea ice remained at very low levels, especially during early 2016 and the October refreezing period, and there was significant and very early melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

“Another year. Another record. The high temperatures we saw in 2015 are set to be beaten in 2016,” said its secretary general Petteri Taalas.

The figures have been released to coincide with the United Nations climate change conference, which is currently taking place in Marrakech, Morocco (COP22), and involves leaders from 200 countries.

The meeting is discussing how best to implement the historic Paris accord, which commits to contain a global temperature rise at less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

As political leaders arrived in the Moroccan capital, sources on Donald Trump’s transition team said the United States president-elect would seek “quick ways” to withdraw the US from the accord.

Global warming ‘hoax’

Barack Obama

Trump’s advisers are considering ways to bypass a theoretical four-year procedure for leaving the accord, according to the source, who works on Trump’s transition team for international energy and climate policy.

While he has made no major public comment on climate change since his election, Mr Trump has already dismissed climate change as an invention of the Chinese government.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Climate Change Denis Naughten will address the plenary session of the conference today.

He is expected to highlight the operation of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, including the first annual transition statement, which he will publish in the coming weeks.

He said he would publish a draft of the first national mitigation plan later this month, will also press ahead with a “clean air strategy” as well as developing a biomass venture involving Bord na Móna.

Former president Mary Robinson was also in Marrakech following the publication of her blueprint paper on El Niño and Climate.

She told the conference the US would become “a kind of rogue country” if it pulled out of the Paris accord, leaving the world more vulnerable to droughts and other climate extremes.

“It would be a tragedy for the United States and the people of the United States if the US becomes a kind of rogue country, the only country in the world that is somehow not going to go ahead with the Paris agreement,” Mrs Robinson said.