Fifty-fifty chance of global temperature overshoot 1.5C before 2026

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Geneva: There is a 50-50  per cent, 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).

According to the report, 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 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 exceedance” said the report.”

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.T

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.
Dr Leon Hermanson, of the Met Office led the report 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.

He however, added that  “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.

The report also mentioned that the back-to-back La Niña events at the start and end of 2021 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” the report said.

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