Climate crisis: 2020 was joint hottest year ever recorded

Global heating continued unabated despite Covid lockdowns, with record Arctic wildfires and Atlantic tropical storms

Map showing land surface temperature anomalies from 19 March to 20 June 2020
The Arctic and northern Siberia saw particularly extreme average temperatures in 2020, with a large region 3C higher than the long-term average. Photograph: Nasa/EPA

The climate crisis continued unabated in 2020, with the the joint highest global temperatures on record, alarming heat and record wildfires in the Arctic, and a record 29 tropical storms in the Atlantic.

Despite a 7% fall in fossil fuel burning due to coronavirus lockdowns, heat-trapping carbon dioxide continued to build up in the atmosphere, also setting a new record. The average surface temperature across the planet in 2020 was 1.25C higher than in the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900, dangerously close to the 1.5C target set by the world’s nations to avoid the worst impacts.

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