The science of global heating has been understood for more than 160 years, and its impacts on natural disasters have been observed for decades. But 2023 was a breakout year, obliterating heat records and driving the impetus for more carbon offsetting, faster. We expect this will in turn drive more demand for carbon credits, including those held by the Fund.
2023 was 1.48°C (2.66°F) warmer than pre-industrial levels, with close to half of the days in 2023 surpassing the 1.5°C warming limit. For the first time on record, two days were more than 2°C warmer than pre-industrial levels.
It is now evident that incremental action will no longer suffice. Keeping a safe climate within reach will require unprecedented action, more quickly than previously planned. This includes a step change in the use of carbon offsetting to abate legacy fossil fuel emissions, alongside direct emissions reductions.
As the Washinton Post reported in December: “2023 will mark a point when humanity crossed into a new climate era — an age of ‘global boiling’, as United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called it. The year included the hottest single day on record (July 6) and the hottest ever month (July), not to mention the hottest June, the hottest August, the hottest September, the hottest October, the hottest November, and probably the hottest December. It included a day, Nov. 17, when global temperatures, for the first time ever, reached 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial levels”.
Phoenix, Arizona endured 31 consecutive days above 43.3°C (110°F) causing nearly 600 heat-related deaths. In the Amazon, low freshwater levels forced towns to ration drinking water, contributed to the deaths of endangered pink dolphins, and choked off the river-based system of travel and trade. Record wildfires ravaged Canada, Russia, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and the US.
Record heat – sustained for long periods – caused the record loss of sea ice. The extent of Antarctic sea ice loss experienced a ‘six sigma event’, meaning the amount of sea ice in the Antarctic dropped by more than six standard deviations below the daily average for 1991 to 2020.