World marks hottest April on record, continuing 11-month heat streak

The world just experienced its hottest April on record, extending an 11-month streak where each month set a new record, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).

Scientists attribute specific weather extremes in April, including a deadly heatwave in the Sahel and rising temperatures across many Asian countries, to climate change. In response, governments in the Philippines and Cambodia closed schools to safeguard students’ health, while India and Bangladesh also faced dangerous heat levels.

Over the past 12 months, the world’s average temperature was the highest on record for any 12-month period, reaching 1.61 degrees Celsius (2.9 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average of the pre-industrial period from 1850-1900.

The primary driver of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. The natural El Niño phenomenon, which warms surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, has also contributed to recent temperature increases.

At a 2015 U.N. climate summit, countries agreed to a goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to avoid severe consequences like deadly heat, flooding, and irreversible ecosystem losses. Although the 1.5C target refers to a long-term global average, some scientists say it is no longer realistic to meet this goal and urge faster cuts in CO2 emissions to minimize the target’s overshoot.