July 9 (UPI) -- Average global temperatures could rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels in the next five years, presenting an "enormous challenge" to world leaders trying to meet Paris Climate Agreement goals, the World Meteorological Organization said Thursday.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said new studies should be a warning for global leaders about the planet that is warming faster than expected.
The Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update showed the yearly mean global temperature will likely rise to at least 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels (1850-1900) in each of the coming five years, 2020 to 2024.
The study, led by Britain's Met Office, said there is a 20 percent chance that it will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels in at least one year.
"This study shows -- with a high level of scientific skill -- the enormous challenge ahead in meeting the Paris Agreement on Climate Change target of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius," Taalas said in a statement.
The WMO, which is part of the United Nations, said the predictions account for natural variations and human influences on climate to provide the best forecasts of temperature, rainfall, wind patterns and other variables for the coming five years.
"WMO has repeatedly stressed that the industrial and economic slowdown from COVID-19 is not a substitute for sustained and coordinated climate action," Taalas said. "Due to the very long lifetime of [carbon dioxide] in the atmosphere, the impact of the drop in emissions this year is not expected to lead to a reduction of CO2 atmospheric concentrations, which are driving global temperature increases."