Environmental campaigners have accused world leaders of ignoring climate change after it was revealed that 2016 will be the hottest year on record.
Provisional figures from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) which were published yesterday have predicted that global temperatures this year will have risen to 1.2C (2.16F) above pre-industrial levels.
And the average temperature is now 0.88C (1.58F) higher than the average for 1961 to 1990.
If the estimates are found to be correct at the end of the year, it will mean 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have occurred in the 21st century.
The WMO’s assessment has been released to inform UN COP22 climate talks in Morocco, which are focusing on implementing the world’s first comprehensive climate treaty, the Paris Agreement.
And a separate report published in the medical journal The Lancet estimated climate change causes some 18,000 deaths a day.
The news comes after US President-elect Donald Trump pledged to pull out of the Paris Agreement. The billionaire has previously claimed global warming is a conspiracy by the Chinese to make American manufacturing non-competitive.
A Campaign against Climate Change spokesperson said the WMO’s figures came as no surprise.
She added: “We have had a year of global record-breaking temperatures, and we are starting to see the impacts, from melting ice caps to severe coral reef damage, as well as localised drought and heat waves.
“And yet during this time the Government has cut support for clean energy and pushed through high carbon projects.
“Scientists are clear that if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to act now, shifting away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable economy.
“It’s time the Government started listening.”
The head of campaigns for Friends of the Earth, Andrew Pendleton, said the figures were “an urgent memo from the planet to any world leaders that think tackling climate change isn’t important”.
He added: “While Trump denies the existence of climate change, and May approves fracking and the Heathrow expansion, our planet is warming fast and time for action is ticking down.”
The Lancet report concluded that climate change posed a “potentially catastrophic risk to human health” while conversely being “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century” if the right steps are taken now.
Professor in health sciences at York University, Hilary Graham, who contributed to the report, said: “Climate change is already exacerbating existing health inequities, damaging the health of children and future generations. By embracing the health opportunities that a strong response to climate change brings, we can help them grow, develop, and live full lives.”
Piers Forster, a professor of physical climate change at Leeds University, said climate change could affect human health in “a myriad of ways”.
He added: “Arguably the largest threat to health is through food security. Without urgent action, harvests in warm countries will be damaged by climate change. This will especially affect large and growing populations across India, Asia and Africa.”