It's official: 2016 is going to be the hottest year ever

Emma Haslett
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The UK Swelters Under Summer Sunshine
London, January 2050 (Source: Getty)

It might not feel like it after the cold snap experienced by the UK over the past few days, but this year is on course to be the hottest on record, with global temperatures set to rise 0.88 degrees celsius above the average.

Today the World Meteorological Association said 2016's global temperatures were approximately 1.2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels, partly thanks to a "powerful El Niño event" (when a band of warm water pushes up global temperatures) at the end of last year.

That means 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century - only 1998 is the outlier.

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“Another year. Another record. The high temperatures we saw in 2015 are set to be beaten in 2016,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas.

"The extra heat from the powerful El Niño event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue,” he said.

“In parts of Arctic Russia, temperatures were six to seven degrees celsius above the long-term average. Many other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions in Russia, Alaska and northwest Canada were at least three degrees above average. We are used to measuring temperature records in fractions of a degree, and so this is different."

Read more: Here are this year's UK storm names

Good news on the horizon?

The news comes on the same day a report suggested global carbon dioxide emissions have been almost flat for the past three years.

A study by the Global Carbon Project showed CO2 emissions increased by three per cent a year throughout the first decade of this century, but emissions started to slow in 2010 - unusual during a time of economic growth.

Experts suggested a slowdown in the Chinese economy may have helped, pushing down coal emissions.

Meanwhile, US emissions fell 2.5 per cent in 2015, and are expected to fall 1.7 per cent this year. So there's a bit of hope...

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