Beijing smashed a 23-year-old record in July, with 27 consecutive days of temperatures above 35C. Image Credit: AFP

Shanghai: China's average temperature in 2023 was its hottest since records began, state media said citing officials Tuesday, capping a year of extreme weather events for the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The record-setting temperatures were part of an unprecedented series of extreme events last year around the world - including heatwaves, droughts and wildfires that scientists say are being exacerbated by climate change.

China's national average temperature last year was 10.7 degrees Celsius (51.3 degrees Fahrenheit), exceeding a record of 10.5C set in 2021, state broadcaster CCTV said, citing Beijing's National Climate Centre.

"The temperature across most of the country was higher by 0.5C-1C," the article read.

Across China, 127 national weather stations broke records for daily high temperatures over the course of the year, it added.

Beijing smashed a 23-year-old record in July, with 27 consecutive days of temperatures above 35C.

Records continued as the year progressed, with the capital logging its hottest ever late October day, among others.

Experts warn that global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions makes extreme weather more likely.

China is the world's biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases driving climate change, such as carbon dioxide.

A recent jump in approvals for coal-fired power plants added to concerns that China will backtrack on its goals to peak emissions between 2026 and 2030 and become carbon-neutral by 2060.

A study released last month found that the country's air pollution worsened in 2023, the first time it has done so in a decade.

Expansion of renewables

China has also turbocharged its use of renewables in recent years, becoming the world's top producer of wind and solar energy.

The United Nations Environment Programme said in November that China was "likely" to meet its climate commitments, citing rapid implementation by the government.

It noted over half of all installed electricity generation capacity is now from non-fossil fuel sources, ahead of a 2025 target, and that share is forecast to continue growing.

But demand continues to increase, and energy security concerns have helped drive continued expansion and even overcapacity of coal-fired power, UNEP warned.

As well as the record-smashing heat, 2023 also saw devastating floods across China's north.

And in the winter, a persistent cold snap forced authorities to issue alerts across a vast area of the country, with all-time December temperature lows being recorded in multiple places.