A world at risk of reaching temperature limits soon

Taiwan's Nantou during this year's drought

Taiwan’s Nantou during this year’s drought

In one of the next five years, it is likely to reach the world’s major temperature limits.

According to major research, it is 40% likely that by 2025 it will be 1.5 ° C higher than pre-industrial levels for at least a year.

This is the lower of the two temperature limits set by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The conclusion is in a report published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

This analysis is based on modeling by the Met Office and climate researchers in 10 countries, including the United States and China.

Over the last decade, it has been estimated that there is only a 20% chance that a year will reach the 1.5C threshold.

With this new assessment, the risk is 40%.

Leon Hermanson, a senior scientist at the Met Office, told BBC News that the projected temperature was clearly higher than the 1850-1900 temperature.

“That means it’s approaching 1.5C. It’s not there yet, but it’s approaching,” he said.

“We are short of time for the powerful actions we need now.”

Researchers point out that even if one of the next five years is 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, it will be a temporary situation.

Temperature curve

Temperature curve

Natural variability means that it will be slightly cooler in the next few years and it may take another 10 or 2 years or more to permanently exceed the 1.5C limit.

The Paris Agreement has set a goal to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 ° C and not above 1.5 ° C. This is understood to mean a long period of time rather than a year.

“The 1.5C in the Met Office’s announcement should not be confused with the 1.5C limit in the Paris Agreement,” said Dr. Joeri Rogeri, research director at the Grantham Institute in Imperial College London.

“The goal of Paris is global warming, that is, the rise in global temperature after smoothing out year-to-year fluctuations,” he explained.

“Therefore, reaching 1.5C in a year does not mean that we have violated the limits of Paris, but it is still very bad news.

“It reiterates that climate change measures to date are completely inadequate and that emissions need to be urgently reduced to zero to stop global warming.”

Wildfire Consume Home in St. Helena, California

A house was burned in flames during a glass wildfire in California last year

A groundbreaking report by the United Nations Climate Panel in 2018 emphasizes that the effects of climate change are much more serious above 1.5 ° C.

At this point, the world is projected to heat up to 3 ° C, despite recent commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said the results of the new study are “more than just statistics.”

“This study shows that with advanced scientific skills, we are approaching the lower goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change in a measurable and relentless manner,” he explained.

“The urgent need for the world to make an urgent commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality is yet another awakening call.”

Professor Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, told me that if the new forecast proved correct, it “does not mean that the limits of the Paris Agreement have been exceeded.”

He points out that there was a 1.5 ° C rise every two months in 2016.

Professor Hawkins said, “As the climate warms, more months will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, followed by a series of months, with an average of more than 1.5 years, a few years, and almost every year. “.

He also emphasizes that 1.5C is “not a magic number to avoid.”

“It’s not a sudden edge of a cliff, it’s like the slopes we’re already on, and the impact gets worse as the climate warms.

“We need to draw a line in the sand to control the rise in temperature, but we need to be clearly aware that the effects of climate change are already seen in the UK and around the world, and those effects will be even more serious. there is. .”

This report is included in our approach to the COP26 Summit on Climate Change, which is scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November.

The summit aims to raise ambition among world leaders in tackling the climate crisis.

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