July will be the hottest month in recorded history

With deadly heatwaves, fires, floods and storms rampaging around the world, scientists have confirmed that July will be the hottest month ever recorded. 

The month’s average global temperature will reach about 1.5°C higher than pre-industrial times, according to the analysis published by Dr Karsten Haustein, a climate scientist at Leipzig University. This may make July the hottest month in over 120,000 years, with both ocean and land temperatures soaring to levels not experienced during modern civilisation. Humanity has undoubtedly entered unchartered territory, with climate impacts hitting harder and faster than predicted and bringing the planetary systems closer to dangerous tipping points.

“The era of global warming has ended; The era of global boiling has arrived,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in response to the analysis. “The air is unbreathable, the heat is unbearable, and the level of fossil fuel profits and climate inaction is unacceptable.” These terrifying impacts of climate change are “just the beginning”, and only dramatic and immediate action can avoid the worst yet to come, said Guterres.

Fossil fuel profits and temperatures are soaring

It’s already been half a decade since the IPPC scientists gave 12 years to limit climate catastrophe. The message was clear: keeping warming within 1.5ºC will require rapid and far-reaching changes in all aspects of society, but bring clear benefits to people, ecosystems and global goals. Yet, climate plans from many governments and corporations desperately fail to address the scale of the crisis, and planet-heating greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise. 

“Institutions are being applauded for setting net zero targets, without producing any measurable plans to achieve them,” said Emma Schuster, Senior climate risk analyst, Just Share. “There is an unconscionable disconnect between the evidence of global heating – and the devastating impact on human lives and health – and the decisions being made by profit-seeking corporations”.

Furthermore, fossil fuel giants are weakening previously announced net zero pledges while hoarding obscene profits from driving the escalating catastrophe. Meanwhile, trillions of dollars still subsidise polluting fossil fuels each year, skewing the market away from renewables and accelerating the climate crisis. 

“There is the gravest injustice being perpetrated by a few who want to maintain and grow the profits they make out of the carbon intensive status quo, along with those state actors who facilitate this. And as always, the most vulnerable pay the price,” Brandon Abdinor, CER Head of Pollution and Climate Change Programme.

Nicolò Wojewoda, Europe Regional Director at 350.org, said: “You would think that those most responsible for the hottest month in recorded human history are being held accountable. Think again… Fossil fuel industry profits are soaring alongside the rise in global temperatures they’re responsible for. This must end now.”

Accelerating the just energy transition can limit climate chaos

South Africa is intensely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, already experiencing climate-induced deadly and extreme weather disasters, hotter temperatures, droughts and disruptions to growing seasons. Economic development is also highly dependent on climate-sensitive industries, such as agriculture, forestry and tourism. 

Without decisive climate action – namely the rapid and just transition from burning fossil fuels – South Africa’s food and water security and economic stability are gravely at risk, and some coastal areas could become uninhabitable altogether.