World on track to breach key 1.5°C threshold in next 5 years: Report
Studies warn of the possibility of the global average surface temperature reaching 1.5°C over the preindustrial average for the first time.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported Monday that there is a 50% possibility that the global average surface temperature would reach 1.5°C over the preindustrial average for the first time in an individual year over the next five years.
Countries are attempting to restrict global warming to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels under the Paris Agreement to reduce the potential for catastrophic climate change impacts.
According to studies, if global warming exceeds 1.5°C over preindustrial levels and continues, the chances of widespread damage increase dramatically.
The new research, which includes climate estimates for the five years 2022-2026, does not indicate that the 1.5-degree objective will be met in the long run, as defined by the Paris Agreement.
The analysis, led by the UK Met Office for the WMO, a United Nations body, and included contributions from climate centers in the United States, Australia, Denmark, and other countries, reveals that the chances of crossing the 1.5-degree barrier in the short run are quickly growing.
For the 2017-2021 forecast period, the WMO concluded that the chances of a single year with temperature anomalies at or above 1.5°C compared to preindustrial levels were just 10%.
The report's lead author, Leon Hermanson, said in a statement that the increased likelihood of exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius in a single year shows "that we are moving progressively closer to a situation where 1.5°C could be exceeded for an extended period."
What's the deal?
Climate studies have shown that if warming exceeds 1.5°C on a long-term average, significantly more catastrophic repercussions, such as the loss of warm-water coral reefs, flooding of small island states, and an increase in lethal heatwaves around the planet, will occur.
"The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a statement. "It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet."
In terms of numbers, the climate prognosis indicates that there is a 93% chance that at least one year between 2022 and 2026 will be the warmest on record, dethroning 2016 from the top spot.
In addition, it finds that the chance of the five-year average for 2022-2026 being higher than the previous five years is also 93%. There is just a 10% chance that the five-year average will exceed 1.5°C, the report found.
Furthermore, it discovers that the likelihood of the five-year average for 2022-2026 being higher than the preceding five years is 93%. According to the analysis, there is only a 10% probability that the five-year average will exceed 1.5°C.