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WMO report: Global temperature could exceed key climate target within 5 years

By
Don Johnson
The sun rises behind One World Trade Center and the Manhattan skyline in New York City on January 17, as seen from West Orange, N.J. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
The sun rises behind One World Trade Center and the Manhattan skyline in New York City on January 17, as seen from West Orange, N.J. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

May 27 (UPI) -- According to a new climate outlook Thursday, there's a good chance that average global temperatures will exceed limits set by the Paris climate agreement sometime within the next five years.

The World Meteorological Organization forecast noted a 40% chance that the world's average surface temperature could temporarily fluctuate to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than pre-industrial levels in one of the next five years -- which would be above the limit set in the Paris agreement.

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The WMO predicted last year that chance was 20%.

The goal of the Paris agreement is to keep the annual rise in global temperature to below 3.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels. It seeks to limit the increase to 2.7 degrees.

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The WMO report also said there's a 90% likelihood that at least one year between now and 2025 will be the warmest ever recorded. To date, the record-holder is 2016.

"These are more than just statistics," WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

"Increasing temperatures mean more melting ice, higher sea levels, more heatwaves and other extreme weather, and greater impacts on food security, health, the environment and sustainable development."

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Taalas said the new study shows that global temperatures are "getting measurably and inexorably closer" to the lower end of the Paris target.

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"It is yet another wake-up call that the world needs to fast-track commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality."

Taalas said technological advances have made it possible to track greenhouse gas emissions back to their sources as a means of targeting reduction efforts.

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The global average temperature in 2020 was 2.2 degrees above the pre-industrial baseline, according to the WMO's State of the Global Climate report in April. The report also said COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns failed to slow the drivers of climate change.

That report highlighted accelerations in climate change indicators like rising sea levels, melting sea ice and extreme weather and noted worsening impacts on socioeconomic development.

The WMO said the greater likelihood of reaching the 2.7-degree target is primarily due to forecasters using improved temperature data to estimate the baseline -- and not sudden changes in climate indicators.

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