According to a variety of news sources, several important records were broken in 2014.
Hottest year on record. The Japan Meteorological Association (JMA) reports that 2014 was 0.27°C warmer than the average from 1981 to 2010, and 0.63°C warmer than the 20th century average. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, and the UK Met Office, also keep track of these climate stats and confirm the JMA’s conclusion. NOAA just reported that 2014 was 0.5°F above normal, making it the 34th-warmest year for the continental U.S. As Climate Central titled this news, “the U.S. hot streak is now officially old enough to vote for president as 2014 makes it 18 years of temperatures above the 20th century average.”
As the NYT described it: “Last year was the hottest on earth since record-keeping began in 1880, scientists reported on Friday, underscoring warnings about the risks of runaway greenhouse gas emissions and undermining claims by climate change contrarians that global warming had somehow stopped. Extreme heat blanketed Alaska and much of the western United States last year. Records were set across large areas of every inhabited continent. And the ocean surface was unusually warm virtually everywhere except near Antarctica, the scientists said, providing the energy that fueled damaging Pacific storms.In the annals of climatology, 2014 surpassed 2010 as the warmest year.”
Wind energy increases. Britain’s wind turbines generated enough electricity to power more than 25% of its homes, up 15% from 2013 (comprising 9.3% of the total grid). Germany’s wind power generated more in December than in any previous month.
New solar energy too. Globally, utility-scale solar installations increased for a fifth, consecutive year. Solar markets in South America and Africa had notable growth, but the largest shares remained in Asia and North America.
Coal demand in China declines. Chinese coal consumption dropped by around 2.3% in the first eleven months of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013 (and 9% average annual growth between 2000 and 2010). Notably, electricity growth in China has slowed to around half the pace of its economic growth, indicating success at energy efficiency and a transition to less electricity-intensive industrial sectors.