A new climate report released by the World Meteorological Organization, said there is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least one of the next five years – and the likelihood is increasing with time.
At least one year between 2022 and 2026 has a 93 percent chance of being the warmest on record, displacing 2016 from the top spot.
According to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, released by the United Kingdom’s Met Office, the WMO’s main center for such projections, the possibility of the five-year average for 2022-2026 being greater than the previous five years (2017-2021) is similar to 93 percent.
To create meaningful information for environment and climate decision-makers, the yearly update draws on the knowledge of internationally renowned climate scientists and the finest prediction tools from leading climate centers across the world.
Since 2015, when it was close to zero, the likelihood of momentarily topping 1.5°C has slowly increased. Between 2017 and 2021, there was a 10% possibility of exceeding the target. For the years 2022-2026, that likelihood has climbed to about 50%.
“With a high degree of scientific competence, our analysis reveals that we are coming significantly closer to temporarily meeting the lower objective of the Paris Climate Agreement,”said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
“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.”
“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 establishes long-term targets to guide all nations in substantially reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius this century, while also pursuing measures to keep it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate-related hazards to natural and human systems are higher at 1.5 degrees Celsius than they are now, but lower at 2 degrees Celsius.
Dr Leon Hermanson of the Met Office led the report.He said:
“Our latest climate predictions show that continued global temperature rise will continue, with an even chance that one of the years between 2022 and 2026 will exceed 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. A single year of exceedance above 1.5 °C does not mean we have breached the iconic threshold of the Paris Agreement, but it does reveal that we are edging ever closer to a situation where 1.5 °C could be exceeded for an extended period.”
In 2021, the global average temperature was 1.1 °C above the pre-industrial baseline, according to the provisional WMO report on the State of the Global Climate. The final State of the Global Climate report for 2021 will be released on May 18.
Back-to-back La Niña events at the start and end of 2021 also had a cooling effect on global temperatures, but this is only temporary and does not reverse the long-term global warming trend. Any development of an El Niño event would immediately fuel temperatures, as it did in 2016, which is until now the warmest year on record.
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