Global temperatures will continue to warm over the next five years and may even temporarily rise to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Thursday (July 9).
That does not mean the world would be crossing the long-term warming threshold of 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit), which scientists have set as the ceiling for avoiding catastrophic climate change.
But it does show the warming trend continuing apace, underlining the “enormous challenge” the world faces in meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of curbing climate-warming emissions enough to keep the rise in temperatures “well below” 2°C, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
Taalas told Reuters there was a 20% chance that average annual temperatures, which fluctuate from year to year, could hit the 1.5C mark in any year between 2020 and 2024. Meanwhile, each of those years is “likely” to be at least 1C above pre-industrial levels, with nearly every region feeling the effects.
Southern Africa and Australia, where bushfires last year razed millions of acres, will probably be dryer than usual through 2024, while Africa’s Sahel region will likely be wetter, Taalas said. Europe should see more storms, while the northern North Atlantic will be windier.
The projections are part of a new WMO effort to provide shorter-range forecasts of temperature, rainfall and wind patterns, to help nations keep tabs on how climate change may be disrupting weather patterns.
However, the world will probably not reach the long-term 1.5C warming threshold for at least another decade.
While the carbon dioxide emission have dropped 4 to 7 per cent due to lockdowns, Taalas warned that the impact will only be in short term.
“The lifetime of carbon dioxide is so long, it does not have any impact on the concentration in the atmosphere, so there may be a little bit of a slowdown of the emission grow, but it does not change the big picture.”