This decade has been the warmest on record and this year is likely to be the fifth warmest, according to the World Meteorological Organisation’s assessment of global average temperatures. The WMO released the preliminary data at the Copenhagen climate summit yesterday, in what the UK Met Office, which contributed to the figures, admitted was an attempt to influence the negotiations over cutting greenhouse gases. According to the WMO, there were sharp differences between regions, with central Africa and parts of southern Asia having their warmest year but the United States and Canada experiencing cooler than average conditions.
The WMO is also anxious to quell doubts about the scientific analysis of temperature records raised by the publication of stolen e-mails in the ‘Climategate’ scandal.
The UK’s Met Office, one of three main sources for the WMO figures, said its records showed that each of the last six decades had been warmer than the previous one.
Since the 18th century, the global temperature has risen just over 0.7C.
The Copenhagen summit is trying to agree a global action plan to prevent the temperature rising more than 2C above the pre-industrial average.