‘Sounding the alarm’: World on course to breach 1.5C threshold in 4 years

New research from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned that global annual average temperatures will exceed the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement by 2027, bringing life-altering climate impacts at a quicker pace.


‘Sounding the alarm’: World on course to breach 1.5C threshold in 4 years

The UK ETS scheme currently covers the aviation, power and industry sectors.

The startling new report has found that there is a 66% chance that annual average temperature increases will exceed the 1.5C ambition of the Paris Agreement by 2027. This does not mean that global temperatures will permanently exceed that threshold.

Professor Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the WMO, said: “This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5C specified in the Paris agreement, which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency.”

Breaching the 1.5C threshold would be “uncharted territory” for humanity, the report notes. The hight average recorded to date has been 1.28C above pre-industrial levels, which is the benchmark for the Paris Agreement’s ambitions.

The report details how extreme weather events, potential desertification and deforestation of crucial ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest and increased rainfall in Northern Europe are now far more likely.

It also found that annually, the global surface temperature will fluctuate between 1.1C and 1.8C above pre-industrial levels up to 2027.

Speed up

The report “sounds the alarm” that global efforts to meet the Paris Agreement and deliver net-zero emissions by net-zero are still long-term aspirations, void of immediate action. More than 90% of global GDP is covered by an intended or stated net-zero target and almost all nations agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement in 2016.

The Climate Group’s chief executive Helen Clarkson responded to the report by stating that businesses and nations “must speed up”.

“This warning that the world could soon hit 1.5 degrees warming highlights the real danger the world finds itself in. Despite progress on decarbonisation, it’s not enough,” Clarkson said. “We must speed up action. This piles pressure on political and business leaders to take more substantial climate action urgently”.

Nations will meet in Abu Dhabi later this year for COP28. The Climate summit will act as a two-week “global stocktake” that assesses how the world is performing against the aims of the Paris Agreement and the need to reduce emissions by at least 43% by 2030.

The WMO report also builds on the body of work from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In March, the body published the fourth and final report of its current assessment cycle, drawing together key findings from recent years and using them to make fresh recommendations to policymakers.

The IPCC’s reporting reiterates that the world is not on track to achieve either of the Paris Agreement’s temperature pathways – 1.5C and 2C –  with stated policies likely to result in a 2.8C trajectory even if delivered in full. At this level of warming, many places will not be “liveable”, the IPCC has stated, warning of increasing risks such as coastal flooding and food and water insecurity that would put up to 3.3 billion livelihoods at risk.

Also reiterated is the fact that action permitted by the private sector is likely to undermine national commitments. The IPCC has stated, once again, that the current pipeline of fossil fuel infrastructure alone would result in a likely temperature pathway of 2.8C – 4C.

Commenting on the WMO report, Climate Impact Partners’ chief executive Sheri Hickok said: “We cannot keep waiting for the next warning before we mobilise immediate and impactful climate action. If the IPCC’s latest report was not enough, then surely today’s startling findings will inject a sense of urgency. It cannot be emphasised enough that this is not a dress rehearsal, we must act now. As the leader of an organisation, my ask to other leaders is that they strive to leave a legacy of standing up, raising ambition, and taking bold strides to ensure the future of our planet.

“The IPCC’s report gave us the answers, we must explore them, learn from peers, talk to the experts, and commit to creating a tidal wave of meaningful action now. There are so many solutions in existence, find the ones that work for you and lean in today.”

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