50 50 chance world reaches 1.5C threshold ‘at least once’ in next five years, WMO says

Earth has a 50:50 chance of temporarily reaching the 1.5C warming threshold “at least once” in the next five years, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says.

In a new climate update, issued today, WMO revised that statistic, warning there’s now a 50 per cent chance the threshold of 1.5C will be hit “at least once” between 2022 and 2026.

Earth has a 50:50 chance of reaching 1.5C warming threshold at least once before 2026, WMO says. (WMO)

Further to that, there’s a 93 per cent chance once of those years will be the warmest on record.

Lead researcher from the Met Office Dr Leon Hermanson said there’s an “even chance” the threshold could be met any year through that period.

What sea level rise will look like around the globe

“Our latest climate predictions show that continued global temperature rise will continue, with an even chance that one of the years between 2022 and 2026 will exceed 1.5C above pre-industrial levels,” he said.

“A single year of exceedance above 1.5C does not mean we have breached the iconic threshold of the Paris Agreement.

“But it does reveal that we are edging ever closer to a situation where 1.5C could be exceeded for an extended period.”

Collectively, the past eight years are the warmest years since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, NASA said.
Collectively, the past eight years are the warmest years since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, NASA said. (NASA)

In 2021, the global average temperature was 1.1 C above the pre-industrial baseline, according to the provisional WMO report on the State of the Global Climate.

What would happen if temperatures increase 1.5C

A warming of 1.5C would see climate impacts “become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet”, WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas said.

“The 1.5C figure is not some random statistic,” Taalas said.

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

Firefighters battle bushfires in Busbys Flat, northern NSW.

Severe flooding hits Lismore in northern NSW in the worst flood ever recorded on Monday February 28 2022. Photo: Elise Derwin / SMH.

October 2019: Firefighters wage a fierce battle against Black Summer bushfires in Busbys Flat in northern NSW. (AAP) / February 2022: Just over two years later northern NSW was hit with a deadly flooding event. The town of Lismore experienced its worst flood ever recorded with the levee peaking at 14.4 metres. The town flooded for a second time a month later in March, with a peak of 11.4 metres. (Elise Derwin/Sydney Morning Herald)

“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.

“Arctic warming is disproportionately high and what happens in the Arctic affects all of us.”

Mark Howden, Director of the Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions said this would cause “systemic effects right across Australia, in almost every aspect of Australian life”.

Among the changes would be an increase in water competition, food price spikes, more deadly heatwaves and the death of beach culture.


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