The earth was never hot­ter than it was in June

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AMY HE in New York amyhe@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The world ex­pe­ri­enced tem­per­a­tures in June that were the high­est since mod­ern record- keep­ing started in 1880, ac­cord­ing to sci­en­tists. En­vi­ron­men­tal ex­perts said the record heat should put greater pres­sure on na­tions to tackle cli­mate change in up­com­ing talks in Paris.

The av­er­age tem­per­a­ture on land and sea last month was 1.58 de­grees Fahren­heit above the 20th cen­tury av­er­age, the high­est in a 136-year pe­riod of record, ac­cord­ing to the US’ Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s monthly sum­mary re­leased on Mon­day. June 2015 also was the fourth month this year so far that has bro­ken monthly tem­per­a­ture records, the re­port said, and so far, the first six months of the year have been the warmest on record.

There were record tem­per­a­tures in China, with places like the Xin­jiang Uygur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion reach­ing 113 de­grees Fahren­heit, and Hong Kong ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its hottest June since 1884. The United States had its sec­ond­warmest June on record. Only June 1933 was hot­ter. Five western states — Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon, Washington, Idaho, and Utah — were all record warm.

The heat is par­tially due to El Niño, the warm­ing of the ocean along the equa­tor that can cre­ate in­fluxes in weather pat­terns across the planet, caus­ing un­usual weather events.

But ex­perts said that El Niño alone can’t be the only rea­son for the warm tem­per­a­tures — 2014 was also a record year with tem­per­a­tures and the El Niño was not present — which they said strength­ens the need for pos­i­tive cli­mate change dis­cus­sions at the United Na­tions Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence in Paris in De­cem­ber. Then 196 coun­tries will meet to sign a legally bind­ing cli­mate change agree­ment.

“This is a story that we’ve been hear­ing over and over again and El Niño alone can’t ac­count for the full global warm­ing that we’re see­ing. We know that 14 of the 15 warmest years have oc­curred since 2000, and the trends we’ve been see­ing sug­gest that El Niño alone can’t re­ally ex­plain this,” said Kelly Levin, se­nior as­so­ciate at think tank World Re­sources In­sti­tute.

“What it does sug­gest is that given the trends in warm­ing and the amount of green­house gas emis­sions that we’re pump­ing into the at­mos­phere ev­ery year, that it is likely that 2015 could again be a record warm year,” she said.

Levin said that the record warmth — ex­pe­ri­enced in the western parts of the US and across China, as well as parts of South Amer­ica and Africa — will hope­fully con­tinue to be “wake-up signs” to de­ci­sion mak­ers that meet in Paris to reach agree­ment to phase out emis­sions.

“Es­pe­cially in the lead-up to Paris and com­ing out of the New York sum­mit last year, there cer­tainly is a lot of mo­men­tum. We know we need more, we know we need more quickly, and I think the hope is that we’ll come out with a very strong agree­ment in De­cem­ber that not only brings coun­tries back to the ta­ble re­peat­edly, to set com­mit­ments over fiveyear cy­cles, but also has a long-term goal to phase our emis­sions,” and to pro­vide those sig­nals to gov­ern­ments around the world as well as the pri­vate sec­tor to re­ally trans­form their economies, she said.

Clay­ton Munnings, a re­search as­so­ciate at think tank Re­sources for the Fu­ture, said that cli­mate ne­go­tia­tors will view re­cent high tem­per­a­tures as a symp­tom of the cli­mate change is­sue.

“I think the ne­go­tia­tors are likely to see the in­crease in tem­per­a­ture as a symp­tom of the dis­ease that they’re all col­lec­tively try­ing to cure, which is ex­cess global warm­ing and cli­mate change. It might per­son­ally mo­ti­vate some ne­go­tia­tors, it might com­pel some ad­vo­cacy groups to put more pres­sure on ne­go­tia­tors,” he told China Daily.

But Munnings also said that ul­ti­mately the warmer tem­per­a­tures — which have been ris­ing con­sis­tently over the last few years — won’t fun­da­men­tally change ne­go­ti­a­tions, though the China-US part­ner­ship on cli­mate tar­gets has been “very en­cour­ag­ing.”

Th e tw o coun­tries an­nounced in Novem­ber their plans to curb emis­sions. The US said that it will re­duce car­bon emis­sions by 26 to 28 per­cent in 2025, com­pared with 2005 lev­els. China for the first time an­nounced that it would peak emis­sions by 2030.

China sub­mit­ted its pro­posal for cli­mate change ac­tions to the UN late June, re­peat­ing its com­mit­ment to peak emis­sions in the next decade and a half, in­creas­ing the share of non-fos­sil fu­els in its energy use, and re­duc­ing car­bon diox­ide emis­sions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 per­cent in 2030 com­pared to 2005 lev­els.

BREN­DAN MCDERMID / REUTERS

A child

cools off in The Bosque Foun­tain in New York’s Bat­tery Park on Mon­day.

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