Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

2020: One of the Hottest Years Ever

2020 tied 2016 as one of the hottest years ever, with average temperature 1.25°C above the pre-industrial average. To avoid catastrophe, the environmental struggle must be anti-capitalist.

Otto Fors

January 12, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share
Overhead image of a wildfire burning in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk region
Image: Reuters/Julia Petrenko

The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) has revealed that global average temperatures in 2020 reached record heights: last year tied with 2016 as the hottest on record. The global average temperature was 0.6°C above the standard reference period of 1981-2010 and 1.25°C above the pre-industrial average. This is the sixth year since 2015 of exceptionally hot weather. 

“It is no surprise that the last decade was the warmest on record,” said C3S Director Carlo Buontempo. “[it] is yet another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emissions reductions to prevent adverse climate impacts in the future.” 

The largest annual temperature deviation from the standard reference period was seen in the Arctic and Northern Siberia. An exceptionally warm year in these regions culminated in temperatures more than 6°C above the average and saw ice sheets melt to a record-breaking low. The wildfire season was also unusually active in this region, with fires first detected in May and continuing well into autumn. These fires released a record 244 megatons of carbon dioxide, exceeding the 2019 record by nearly 35 percent. Australia and the U.S. West Coast also experienced unprecedented wildfires, adding to these staggering emissions. 

You might be interested in: Biden’s Climate Plan Is a Catastrophe in the Making

Carbon emissions dipped in 2020 due to the global economic shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic. But this temporary drop amounted to just 7 percent — 10 percent in the United States — and may have been offset by the massive wildfires. Carbon dioxide concentrations continued to increase at a rate of 2.3 parts per million (ppm) per year according to the C3S, peaking at 413 ppm in May 2020. 

“While carbon dioxide concentrations have risen slightly less in 2020 than in 2019, this is no cause for complacency,” reported Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. “Until global net emissions are reduced to zero, CO2 will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and drive further climate change,” he warned.

A system where finite resources are privately owned, exploited, and exchanged for the sole purpose of enriching a wealthy minority will never be able to tackle climate change. And the minuscule temporary drop associated with the coronavirus demonstrates that individual responsibility is wholly insufficient for halting our disastrous trajectory. 

Capitalist governments across the world have not just ignored this emergency — they have actively exacerbated it. To avoid catastrophe, the environmental struggle must be anti-capitalist, and the solution is a democratically-run economy structured around human need and environmental sustainability rather than profit.

Adapted and expanded from an article first published in Spanish on January 8 in La Izquierda Diario.

Translation: Otto Fors

Facebook Twitter Share

Otto Fors

Otto is a college professor in the New York area.

Ideas & Debates

Toward a Revolutionary Socialist Network

In this article Warren Montag and Joseph Serrano respond to our call for a network for a working-class party for socialism. 

Warren Montag

September 27, 2023

China’s Rise, ‘Diminished Dependency,’ and Imperialism in Times of World Disorder

In this broad-ranging interview, originally published in LINKS, Trotskyist Fraction member Esteban Mercatante discusses how recent global shifts in processes of capital accumulation have contributed to China’s rise, the new (and old) mechanisms big powers use to plunder the Global South, and its implications for anti-imperialist and working-class struggles today.

Esteban Mercatante

September 22, 2023

What Is the Role of a “Green Card Soldier”? Interview with Sofya Aptekar

While both capitalist parties fight over diversity in the military, Sofya Aptekar’s new book, Green Card Soldier, looks at the experiences of immigrant soldiers in the U.S. military and how oppressed communities are used by the military to legitimize and expand empire.

Sam Carliner

August 22, 2023
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Stalinism, Anti-Communism, and the Fate of the Soviet Union — An Interview with Doug Greene

In this episode, we interview author and historian Douglas Greene about his new book “Stalinism and the Dialectics of Saturn: Anticommunism, Marxism, and the Fate of the Soviet Union.”

Left Voice

August 14, 2023

MOST RECENT

The Deadliest Year for U.S.-Mexico Border Crossings Occurred during Biden’s Administration

The humanitarian crisis at the border was created by capitalism. Voting for a lesser evil won’t save the Latin American working class; it will take international, political and strategic solidarity across borders to build a combative immigrants’ rights movement.

Paul Ginestá

September 28, 2023

The Big Three Are Using Layoffs to Punish the UAW and Undermine the Strike

The Big Three are retaliating against the UAW by laying off thousands of its members at plants across the country. Defeating these attacks will require the self organization and mobilization of all the workers.

James Dennis Hoff

September 28, 2023
President Biden visits striking UAW workers in Michigan.

Biden’s Picket Line Visit Doesn’t Mean He Is On Our Side

President Biden’s visit to the UAW picket line shows the strength of the strike — and why it should remain independent from him and the Democrats.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

September 27, 2023

Scabs Will Not Pass: Defend the UAW Strike With Organized Grassroots Power

The Big Three are escalating their use of scabs. The rank and file are fighting back.

Jason Koslowski

September 27, 2023