The year 2015 has been confirmed as the hottest on record since at least the mid-to-late 1800s, according to the American Meteorological Society (AMS).
The ‘State of the Climate in 2015' report published in the Bulletin of the AMS notes the combined effect of long-term global warming and a very strong El Niño effect, and reports record-high sea levels, upper ocean heat content, global sea surface temperatures, global surface temperatures, and major greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations.
4 August 2016: The year 2015 has been confirmed as the hottest on record since at least the mid-to-late 1800s, according to the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The ‘State of the Climate in 2015’ report published in the Bulletin of the AMS notes the combined effect of long-term global warming and a very strong El Niño effect, and reports record-high sea levels, upper ocean heat content, global sea surface temperatures, global surface temperatures, and major greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations.
The report, which is led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information, has over 450 scientist-contributors from 62 countries. Released each Northern summer, the report updates global climate indicators, brings together multiple independent datasets and collects tens of thousands of measurements. This year’s report finds that in 2015, the Earth had reached average warming of more than 1°C above pre-industrial levels. [NOAA Press Release] [NOAA’s 2015 State of the Climate Highlights] [AMS Publication Webpage] [State of the Climate in 2015]
Recognizing the threats posed to their localities by these extreme changes, subnational governments have been recognized for taking action at the local level to both reduce emissions and prepare for the changes ahead. Partnering with the non-profit CDP, a record number of cities have opted to disclose climate information to help them manage emissions and build resilience.
CDP reports that, “533 cities globally representing 621 million citizens reported the actions they’re taking on climate… a rise of 70% from 2015.” In particular, the organization notes a jump from 12 to 46 cities in Africa reporting on their climate strategies since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015. According to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, “When cities measure their climate footprint…they take us all further towards the global transition to low emissions and resilient development.” She congratulated CDP on being a “key provider” of data for the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) portal, which showcases climate actions from actors other than national governments. [CDP Press Release] [NAZCA Portal] [CDP Cities Program Webpage]
Private sector actors are also getting on board, partly thanks to efforts by UNFCCC Parties and the Secretariat, as well as recent Conference of the Parties (COP) Presidencies, to bring a diverse array of non-state actors into the fold. Swiss Climate, a carbon management consultancy, announced on 29 July that it has joined the Climate Neutral Now initiative led by the UNFCCC Secretariat.
By signing the pledge, Swiss Climate committed to becoming carbon neutral by the second half of the century. The process involves measuring GHG emissions, reducing them as much as possible, reporting on emissions and using UN certified emission reductions to compensate for those that cannot be avoided. According to Swiss Climate it has already for several years taken the initiative to complete these four steps and is joining the Climate Neutral Now campaign to further support global climate action. [Swiss Climate Press Release] [Climate Neutral Now Website]
Climate-related developments have also occurred in the international transport sector. The Paris Agreement and negotiations under the UNFCCC do not generally address emissions in this sector, as mitigating these emissions is primarily being discussed under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
On 2 August, ICAO released its 2016 Environmental Report, which is written by over 600 experts and led by the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). The report covers climate change mitigation and adaptation as they relate to the sector and summarizes progress made in the past three years through the activities of the ICAO Secretariat, ICAO member States and other industry stakeholders. The 2016 edition features case studies that illustrate quantified benefits of ICAO’s mitigation actions. Former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres called the report a “crucial step” toward creating policies that lead to peak emissions in the industry. [ICAO Press Release] [Publication Webpage] [ICAO 2016 Environmental Report] [UNFCCC Press Release]
IMO has also been exploring ways to reduce emissions in marine shipping, including through energy efficiency measures and technologies. On 4 August, the organization launched a new website, glomeep.imo.org, which includes an information portal on energy efficiency technologies and their maturity levels. The portal is organized by sub-categories on machinery, propulsion and hull improvements, and energy recovery. The new website is a hub for updates and information on the Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships (GloMEEP) project. GloMEEP is promoting the adoption and implementation of energy efficiency measures in shipping to reduce GHG emissions. [GloMEEP Website] [Energy Efficiency Technologies Information Portal] [IMO Press Release]
In addition to these initiatives by non-state actors and intergovernmental organizations, many Parties are also not waiting for the Paris Agreement to enter into force to start implementing their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). For instance, a workshop held in Viet Nam on 26-27 July with 13 countries from the Asia-Pacific region focused on progress and strategies for implementing NDCs.
Organized by the International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV (measurement, reporting and verification), the ‘Unpacking (I)NDCs – Identifying, Prioritizing, Planning and Implementing Mitigation and Adaptation Measures’ workshop allowed countries to exchange ideas and share challenges and successes thus far. In many cases, Parties tied in their experiences with nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and national adaptation plans (NAPs), which can inform the NDC process. The Partnership reports that the workshop demonstrated that the process of translating NDCs into plans of action has already begun in most countries, but that Parties do continue to face institutional, financial and other obstacles. [International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV Press Release]