There is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial level for at least one of the next five years – and the likelihood is increasing with time, according to a new climate update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
There is a 93% likelihood of at least one year between 2022-2026 becoming the warmest on record and dislodging 2016 from the top ranking. The chance of the five-year average for 2022-2026 being higher than the last five years (2017-2021) is also 93%, according to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update produced by the United Kingdom’s Met Office, the WMO lead centre for such predictions.
The annual update harnesses the expertise of internationally acclaimed climate scientists and the best prediction systems from leading climate centers around the world to produce actionable information for decision-makers.
The chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5°C has risen steadily since 2015, when it was close to zero. For the years between 2017 and 2021, there was a 10% chance of excedance. That probability has increased to nearly 50% for the 2022-2026 period.
“This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – that we are getting measurably closer to temporarily reaching the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic. It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
“For as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise. And alongside that, our oceans will continue to become warmer and more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea level will continue to rise and our weather will become more extreme. Arctic warming is disproportionately high and what happens in the Arctic affects all of us,” said Prof. Taalas.
The Paris Agreement sets long-term goals to guide all nations to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 °C while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 °C.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5 °C than at present, but lower than at 2 °C.
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