The extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, boosted by a strong El Niño cycle in the Pacific Ocean, made 2023 an epic year of shattered climate records, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said Tuesday. The WMO State of the Global Climate report illustrates the increasing costs of inaction on the climate crisis, detailing broken records for everything from sea ice loss to land and water temperatures, to greenhouse gas pollution.

The underlying heating, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, set the stage for the hottest year since the Industrial Revolution. “Never have we been so close – albeit on a temporary basis at the moment – to the 1.5° C” goal established in the Paris Agreement, WMO Secretary-General Celeste Saulo said. Adding, the WMO was “sounding the Red Alert to the world.”

Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London who was not involved in the report, echoed that sentiment. “If we do not stop burning fossil fuels,” Otto told The Guardian, “the climate will continue to warm, making life more dangerous, more unpredictable, and more expensive for billions of people on earth.” (The Guardian, Axios, The Hill, AP, Bloomberg $, Reuters, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, The Independent)