Summer in Berlin


Summer in Berlin
© anna42f


“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in Berlin.”

– “gosalized” apocryphal ascription from Mark Twain 

The global average temperature in 2023 was 14.98 degrees Celsius, making it the hottest year since records began in the mid-19th Century. It was 0.17 degrees hotter than the previous record year of 2016, it was 1.48 degrees above the pre-industrial era, and it was a record not only in the past 150 years but likely for much longer.

“Temperatures in 2023 were most likely higher than any period in at least the past 100,000 years,” said Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the European Union’s climate change observatory Copernicus. “It is also the first year that every single day was at least 1 degree warmer than the pre-industrial period.”  

The Paris Climate Agreement’s aim is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees, but preferably to 1.5 degrees compared with the pre-industrial era. Temperatures remained just below this 1.5-degree mark in 2023, but according to Copernicus, the year was already warmer than the pre-industrial era by more than 1.5 degrees on almost half of all the days. 

On November 17 last year, even the 2-degree threshold was exceeded for the first time since records began, making a grim entry in climate records. 

“This is not a violation of the Paris Agreement, which is about longer-term values and not about individual days, months or years,” Copernicus stated. “Nevertheless, 17 November, 2023, underlines our proximity to the internationally agreed limits and this value is now the largest deviation to date from the estimated average of a day for the pre-industrial period.”  

German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan said that to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees in the long term—as agreed in Paris in 2015—global emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases must fall quickly, by 43% by 2030.  

Without affirmative leadership, this will be a steep uphill climb. The World Climate Conference in Dubai in December 2023 agreed on a gradual phase-out of fossil fuels but without a timetable or specifying a complete phase-out.  

More greenhouse gas emissions are pushing the earth toward a catastrophic warming of 2.5-2.9 degrees by 2100. This means more heatwaves, droughts and forest fires, as well as an increasing battle for water. 

2023 was also the warmest year in Germany since records began in 1881, with an average temperature of 10.6 degrees Celsius, slightly above the previous year’s figure of 10.5 degrees. Previously, 2022 and 2018 had been the two warmest years in Germany since 1881. 

With an average temperature of 19.6 degrees, 2023 was also the hottest summer in Berlin. Released 40 years ago, a song of the same name by German pop group Alphaville echoes the fears of climate experts that the earth is warming up dramatically. 

“The dust in the park, the exhaust from the cars, ascends in that heated afternoon. You touch a sweaty body. Summer in Berlin, it’s alright. The day feels so tired from the lead in the air and the fire in the skies.” 

According to experts, 2024 is set to be another record year for global warming—including the Summer in Berlin. 

STAY SummerSTAYnable!  

Apu Gosalia is a sustainability expert. He can be reached at

Related Topics