| 8 December 2023, Friday |

Global temperatures set to break records in next five years, might hit key warming threshold: UN

A report by the United Nation’s weather agency, issued on Wednesday, said that global temperatures will rise to record levels in the next five years and at least one of those years will be the warmest on record.

It also noted that there is a 66 per cent chance that the annual average near-surface global temperature between the years 2023 and 2027, will be more than 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least one year, crossing the key threshold.


What did the UN agency say?

The report has attributed this record rise in temperatures to a combination of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and naturally occurring El Niño weather pattern.

According to Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the weather pattern is expected to develop in the coming months and will combine with human-induced climate change effectively pushing global temperatures into an “uncharted territory”.


He added, “This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment. We need to be prepared.” The report also noted that there is a 98 per cent chance that at least one in the next five years will beat the temperature record set in 2016. The rise in temperature noted seven years ago was also due to an exceptionally strong El Niño.


The 1.5 degree Celsius limit

The update issued by the WMO also said that there is a 66 per cent likelihood that the annual average near-surface global temperature between this year and 2027 will cross the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold, warmer than the mid-19th century.


However, the temperature might not stay over the key threshold which remains critical because of the 2015 Paris climate agreement which set the number to guide all nations to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions while countries pledging to try to prevent that in the long run.


The lead author of the report, a climate scientist at the United Kingdom’s Met Office, Leon Hermanson, said, “It won’t be this year probably. Maybe it’ll be next year or the year after,” referring to the 1.5 degree Celsius average. Hermanson also said that “a single year doesn’t really mean anything.” Scientists usually use 30-year averages.


However, he warned that “Nobody is going to be untouched by these changes and it’s already leading to floods across the world, droughts and big movements of people.” Meanwhile, Taalas said that this report does not indicate that the temperature will “permanently exceed” the 1.5-degree Celsius level.


He added, “However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5 C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency.” In a press conference, on Wednesday, the WMO chief also said, “We haven’t been able to limit the warming so far and we are still moving in the wrong, wrong direction.”


El Niño

According to the UN, the weather pattern, El Niño, typically increases global temperatures in the year after it develops. In this case, that means 2024, when we could witness large-scale warming of surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. As of now, the world was coming off a record-tying triple dip La Nina for three years straight which is the opposite of the El Niño weather pattern.

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