Energy & Environment

World has 50 percent chance of hitting 1.5-degree warming milestone in the next 5 years, UN group says

There is a 50 percent chance the world’s temperatures will soon reach 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming, a milestone scientists warned we need to avoid to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The WMO said in an update published on Monday that there is a “50:50 chance” that the annual average global temperature will temporarily top 1.5 degrees Celsius in growth for at least one of the next five years. 

The United Nations (U.N.) weather organization also said that there’s a 93 percent chance that at least one year between 2022 and 2026 will become the warmest on record, dethroning 2016.

In the 2015 paris agreement, countries agreed to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, when the global economy was not yet powered by the use of planet-warming fossil fuels. 

And in a special report in 2018, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of impacts at 1.5 degrees, including coral reef die-offs, failed crop yields and multiple feet of sea level rise. 

In the years 2017 through 2021, there had been only a 10 percent chance that the world would exceed the 1.5-degree milestone. 

“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,” said a statement from WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Taalas described 1.5 degrees of warming as an “indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people.” 

“For as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise,” he said. “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.”

The IPCC said in August that humans have already caused about 1.07 degrees Celsius of warming.

The report comes amid reports of record-breaking heat in India and Pakistan, where temperatures were recently as high as 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the country’s climate goals are in jeopardy, as Congress has so far not passed President Biden’s spending agenda.

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