Dangerous Rise in Global Temperatures Could Happen in Just Five Years

A dangerous rise in global temperatures above the 1.5C limit set by the UN could happen in just five years, warn scientists.

There is a 40 per cent chance that annual temperature rises will go beyond the level set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, agreed to by 196 countries, it is claimed.

The report published by the World Meteorological Organisation also warns of a very high likelihood – a 90 per cent chance – of at least one year between 2021 and 2025 becoming the warmest on record, outstripping 2016’s record heat.

Global average temperatures of 1.5C above 19th century levels are seen as a threshold beyond which the most dangerous impacts of climate change will be felt.

Scientists warn that temperature rises above 1.5C will lead to more heatwaves, extreme rainstorms, water shortages and drought, greater economic losses and lower crop yields, higher sea levels and destruction of coral reefs.

In 2020, the global average temperature was 1.2C above pre-industrial levels, making it among the three hottest years on record.

The predictions appear in the WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate update, which is led by Britain’s Met Office.

WMO secretary general Professor Petteri Taalas said: ‘Increasing temperatures mean more melting ice, higher sea levels, more heatwaves and other extreme weather, and greater impacts on food security, health, the environment and sustainable development.

This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – that we are getting measurably and inexorably closer to the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

‘It is yet another wake-up call that the world needs to fast-track commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions.’

Under the international Paris Agreement countries pledged to limit long-term temperature rises to 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to curb them to 1.5C, to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

Current action promised by countries puts the world on track for 2-3C of warming by the end of the century.

Dr Stephen Cornelius, chief climate adviser at WWF, said: ‘Limiting global warming to 1.5C is of critical importance to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis on people and nature, but we know without global action we are at risk of reaching this threshold in the coming years.

‘With so much at stake, governments must take urgent action to cut harmful emissions.’

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