Planet will likely clear 1.5°C barrier for the first time before 2027

The prospect of a strong El Niño event and increased greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere has prompted the World Meteorological Organization to up the likelihood of the world exceeding one of the Paris Climate Agreement’s climate thresholds.

The WMO now says there’s a 66% chance average global temperature will be 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels at some point in the next five years.

On top of this, it’s near certain that one of those years will be the warmest on record, and that 2023-27 will be the warmest five-year period yet, although it is unlikely to be above the threshold across that average period.

These findings headline the latest climate update from the WMO, which only last year considered it an even chance that 1.5°C would be breached before 2027.

But while it’s probable that the planet’s average temperature will move beyond 1.5°C at some point soon, it will likely be short-lived. Indicators suggest it will become a permanent situation at some point in the 2030s on current trajectories. In isolation, Australia’s leading scientists indicate the continent’s climate is hovering close to that limit.

“This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years,” says WMO secretary-general, Professor Petteri Taalas.

“However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency.

“A warming El Niño is expected to develop in the coming months and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory.

“This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment.”

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The Paris Climate Agreement signed in 2015 preferred to keep global temperatures beneath the 1.5°C mark, while setting a firmer 2°C target before the end of the century. The world’s current carbon mitigation efforts are likely insufficient to prevent that temperature increase being exceeded.

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