Actionable Climate Science forPolicymakers
2023 has been a year of climate superlatives: after five straight months (June – October) of record-breaking monthly average temperatures, it is nearly certain that the year will finish as the warmest on annual-average record. Additionally, Berkeley Earth’s analysis gives a 90% chance that 2023 will become the first year in our dataset to breach the 1.5°C threshold established by the Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015. It is against this backdrop that COP28 takes place in Dubai.
In conjunction with the start of COP28, Berkeley Earth has updated our foundational, national-level projections with the most recent data available. Designed to be easily accessible to a variety of different stakeholders, these tools provide crucial climate insights including national-level projected warming trajectories based on IPCC emissions scenarios, decarbonization trends, and global progress towards meeting Paris Agreement targets. More information about Berkeley Earth’s climate data products is available on our Data Overview page.
// Country-Level Warming Projections
The world has warmed 1.3°C
How much has your country warmed?
The United Kingdom
Already +1.3 °C in 2022
Heading for around +1.3 °C in 2100
According to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature data set, the Earth has warmed, on average, 1.3°C since the pre-industrial baseline. This average includes both the warming over land and oceans. Since the warming over land is generally faster than over oceans, most nations will experience warming faster than the global average. As certain regions experience a faster rate of warming, the impacts will also appear more quickly, including the potential for more severe weather events over the coming decades.
The national warming projections shown represent the first localized estimates of warming consistent with the recent UN IPCC report emissions scenarios. Made using the most recent CMIP6 climate models, Berkeley Earth has focused on three of the most well-studied scenarios, or “Shared Socioeconomic Pathways”, each reflecting differing rates of global decarbonization and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
- SSP1-2.6 – represented by the green curve – with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, assumes net zero carbon dioxide worldwide by ~2080. Under this scenario, overall average global warming is expected to reach approximately 1.8°C by 2100.
- SSP2-4.5 – represented by the orange curve – an intermediate emissions trajectory. This assumes that modern emissions levels stay approximately consistent through 2050, before gradually declining. Under this scenario, net zero is not reached by 2100, and global average warming is expected to have reached approximately 2.7°C by 2100 and still be rising. Among the scenarios, this is the closest to the world’s current behavior on emissions.
- SSP3-7.0 – represented by the brown curve – a high emissions, high warming scenario, that assumes the world not only fails to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, but that emissions continue to rise. Under this scenario, carbon dioxide emissions are assumed to double by 2100; average global temperatures would reach approximately 3.6°C above pre-industrial baseline, more than doubling current levels of warming.
It is important to note that no scenario is considered more likely than the next. Rather, future outcomes will depend entirely on the decisions that individuals and governments make regarding the use of fossil fuels and related emissions. It remains possible to choose a low emissions future, a high emissions future, or anything in between.
The stated goal of the Paris Agreement, keeping global warming well-below 2.0 C, consistent with the green curves, will require sharp reductions in the use of fossil fuels. An even more ambitious target of 1.5 C of global warming is not shown in these scenarios, but would require even faster reductions, reaching net zero emissions by ~2050.
// National Carbon Trends
Global warming is caused by elevated levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, with carbon dioxide and methane being the primary gases contributing to anthropogenic warming. To limit future warming, we must stop increasing the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide.
The figures below, updated with data through 2022, provide a snapshot of relative historic carbon emissions on a country-by-country basis, alongside data reflecting current progress towards reducing emissions and meeting net-zero targets.
The window is quickly closing to reduce emissions to the levels needed to limit warming to the 1.5°C target established by the Paris Agreement. According to the 2023 UN Emissions Gap Report, emissions need to fall by 28% by 2030 for the 2°C pathway, and 42% for the 1.5°C pathway. Despite the significant progress made recently in transitioning to low-carbon sources of energy, the IEA reports that the carbon intensity of the global energy sector reached a new record high of 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2022, 1% higher than pre-pandemic averages. Nonetheless, the report notes that emissions levels are expected to peak this decade even in the absence of further policy commitments.
Carbon dioxide emissions originate from a wide range of human activities, including electricity generation, heating, agriculture, and transportation. Reducing total emissions to zero will require multiple strategies to address these different aspects of human activity, but ultimately require using both natural and technological alternatives, including carbon removal technology, to eliminate most uses of fossil fuels. This transformation of the world’s energy system will require substantial investments to operate at the scale required.
What is your country’s carbon trend?
|Carbon dioxide from Country Name|
|Annual carbon dioxide
|40 tonnes per person||25th highest,
2.5x world average
|Trend in emissions
|-1.0 tonnes per person per decade,
-10% per decade
|25th fastest decline|
|250 million tonnes||25th highest|
// Fossil Fuels and The Carbon Cycle
The only way to reduce temperatures is to reduce carbon.
The burning of fossil fuels – oil, coal, and natural gas – is the primary source of man-made atmospheric carbon dioxide. Since the start of the industrial revolution, humans have contributed more than 2,000 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
After it is released into the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide is naturally redistributed between the atmosphere, the oceans, and the biosphere. However, none of the emitted carbon will return to the Earth by natural processes for many tens of thousands of years. As a result, the carbon that humans release by burning fossil fuels will lead to increased levels of carbon in the atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere for many thousands of years.
If carbon dioxide is allowed to continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, it will be impossible for the world to stay below 2.0°C, let alone 1.5°C.
// Global Emissions Commitments
Minding the Gap: Is 1.5°C Still Possible?
2023 will mark the UN’s first official global stocktake since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, a comprehensive evaluation of progress towards the 1.5°C warming target that will help inform future discussions around national decarbonization commitments, or NDCs.
Over the past eight years, policy actions and transformations of energy systems have greatly reduced fossil fuel emissions, lowering the world’s future greenhouse gas emissions trajectory. The more severe warming scenarios projecting 4°-5°C of average warming now seem increasingly unlikely. However, despite this progress, current commitments and policies are insufficient for meeting the stated goals of the Paris Agreement.
The 2023 UN Emissions Gap Report finds that while the projected increase in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 has fallen from 16% at the time of the Paris Agreement in 2015, to an estimated 3% increase given policies in place today. this reduction is still far short of the 42% reduction in emissions needed to limit warming to 1.5°C, and the 28% reduction needed to remain below 2.0°C.
The lack of progress toward significant short-term emissions reductions has led some climate scientists to question whether the 1.5°C warming target is still realistic. Full implementation of current unconditional national pledges would limit temperatures to 2.9°C by 2100, nearly double the warming level set by the Paris Agreement, while full implementation of conditional pledges would lower that figure to only 2.5°C.
A recent article published in Nature Magazine cites the world’s tremendous progress towards low-carbon energy sources as a sign of progress towards meeting global warming targets, it notes that, by any measure, the transition towards low-carbon energy sources has still been too slow. And while financing for the energy transition has already accelerated significantly over the past few years, reaching $1.4 trillion in both private and public funding in 2022, the Climate Policy Initiative reports that this figure would need to rise to $9 trillion by 2030 to fund both the mitigation and adaptation efforts needed to respond to a warming climate.
After a scorching hot summer that witnessed five straight months of new record global average temperature, Berkeley Earth estimates a 90% chance that 2023 will be the first annual global average in our dataset to finish above the 1.5°C threshold. While the IPCC defines the 1.5°C target by the 30-year moving average, not a single year, breaching 1.5 °C this year would serve to emphasize how little time remains to meet this target.
While 2023 is likely to mark a significant milestone, a few months, or even a single year, warmer than 1.5 °C does not automatically mean that the goal has been exceeded. However, given current emissions rates, unless sharp reductions in man-made greenhouse gas emissions occur soon, the long-term global average is currently projected to pass 1.5 °C during the 2030s.
Berkeley Earth is an independent climate science non-profit, dedicated to providing high-quality, impartial climate data and analysis for decision makers at all levels. Our work was referenced in the 2021 IPCC Report on Climate Change, and has been featured extensively across major media outlets. For access to additional data about local warming trends, visit our regional temperature page.