93% risk of record heat in the coming years

There is a risk of a temporary temperature rise above the benchmark of 1.5 degrees within the next five years, warns the UN in a report. The UN meteorological organization WMO estimates the probability at 48 percent and says that it increases with time.

In the Paris Agreement of 2015, most of the world’s countries agreed to keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2 degrees, and preferably below 1.5 degrees, compared to pre-industrial times.

WMO further says that there is a 93% risk that at least one year between 2022 and 2026 will be the warmest that has ever been measured and picks 2016 from the top ranking. The probability that the five-year average for 2022–2026 will be higher than in the last five years (2017–2021) is also estimated at 93 percent.

Increasing frequency

“1.5 degrees is not a random statistic. It is rather an indicator of when the climate impact will be increasingly harmful to humans and in fact the entire planet,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas in a comment.

Read more: Extreme heat in India ‘tests the limits of survival’

The Paris Agreement’s level of 1.5 degrees is aimed at long-term warming, but temporary overruns are expected to occur with increasing frequency as global temperatures rise.

“A single year exceeding 1.5 degrees does not mean that we have violated the threshold of the Paris Agreement, but it does reveal that we are approaching a situation where 1.5 degrees can be exceeded over a longer period,” said report author Leon Hermanson, from the British meteorological authority Met.

Let Niña cool down

The global average temperature in 2021 was about 1.11 degrees above pre-industrial levels, according to preliminary WMO figures.

The report says that two years in a row with the weather phenomenon La Niña, with cooler temperatures and more rain over Southeast Asia and Australia, among others, has had a cooling effect on global temperatures.

Facts: The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is a global climate agreement that the countries of the world agreed on in December 2015. It formally entered into force in November 2016.

According to the agreement, global warming will be kept well below 2 degrees compared to the pre-industrial level, with the ambition of limiting it to 1.5 degrees. This will primarily be done through reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The parties to the agreement shall gradually tighten their commitments and renew or update these every five years. This is done in national climate plans (NDC).

Part of the Paris Agreement is about increasing the ability to adapt to negative effects and deal with damage and losses that arise as a result of climate change.

A basic idea in the agreement is that the countries with the best conditions should take the lead and that industrialized countries should provide support to developing countries. This will be done through climate financing, technology transfer and capacity building.