Year after year, decade after decade, temperature records are rising due to the burning of coal, oil and gas.

This month, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its Global Climate Report, confirming that 2020 was the second hottest year on record globally, coming in just 0.02˚C below the previous record set in 2016. In addition, according to NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2020 effectively tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record.

This is particularly alarming given that 2020 was influenced by a La Niña event, which usually leads to cooler-than-average global temperatures.

Clear scientific evidence shows that climate change is rapidly warming our planet, caused by our failure to stop burning fossil fuels and curb rising emissions.

Here are the facts:

  • 2020 is virtually tied with 2016 for the hottest year globally on record – despite a cooling La Niña, whereas 2016 was a record year that began with a strong warming El Niño event.
  • The past decade (2011-2020) was the hottest on record, +0.82°C above the 20th century average.
  • The past seven years have been the hottest seven on record (since 1880).
  • The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2005.
  • 2020 was the hottest year on record for Europe and Asia. South America had its second warmest year on record.

In a response to these alarming facts, Professor Will Steffen of the Climate Council issued a call for ambitious climate action:

“Right now, at just over 1°C of global heating, we are already paying a serious price; the recent Black Summer bushfires, prolonged drought, and the third mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in five years, to name just a few.

“In Australia, our response so far has been woefully inadequate. Without deep and rapid cuts to global emissions, we are on track for 3°C of warming, maybe more. The impacts of this warming would be catastrophic.

“We’ve seen through the pandemic how quickly some governments can act in the face of a health and economic crisis. The climate crisis demands an equivalent response.

“2021 must be a year for ambitious climate action, and we all need to step up – and fast – to turn this ship around.”