Global Warming Likely to Exceed 1.5C Threshold by 2027, Warn Scientists
In a concerning development, scientists predict that our warming world is on track to surpass a crucial temperature limit for the first time in the coming years. Researchers estimate a 66% chance of exceeding the 1.5C global warming threshold between now and 2027. This increased likelihood is attributed to human-caused emissions and the potential impact of an El Niño weather pattern anticipated later this year.
The breach of this limit, albeit temporary, would signify a world that is 1.5C warmer than during the latter half of the 19th Century, prior to the significant rise in fossil fuel emissions. Even a one-year breach of the threshold serves as a troubling indication that warming is accelerating, rather than slowing down.
The 1.5C target has become a symbolic focal point in global climate change negotiations, as nations agreed to strive toward limiting temperature rises under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Prolonged breaches of the 1.5C level for a decade or two would result in far-reaching consequences, including more intense storms, longer heatwaves, and increased frequency of wildfires.
However, surpassing the 1.5C threshold in the next few years does not mean that the Paris Agreement’s limit has been breached irreversibly. Scientists emphasize that there is still time to mitigate global warming by significantly reducing emissions.
The World Meteorological Organization has been monitoring the chances of surpassing the 1.5C threshold on an annual basis since 2020. Initially, there was less than a 20% likelihood of breaching the limit within the following five years. However, this probability steadily increased to 50% last year and now stands at 66%, indicating a higher probability of occurrence.
While the 1.5C figure does not directly measure the world’s temperature, it serves as an indicator of how much the Earth has warmed or cooled relative to the long-term global average. Scientists use average temperature data from 1850-1900 as a baseline to assess the magnitude of warming since the advent of industrialization and the reliance on coal, oil, and gas.
Previously, scientists believed that a 2C increase would mark the threshold of dangerous impacts. However, a significant revision in 2018 highlighted the calamitous consequences of exceeding 1.5C. In 2016, the warmest year on record, global temperatures were already 1.28C above the pre-industrial levels. Researchers now have a 98% certainty that this record will be surpassed before 2027, with a strong possibility of breaching the 1.5C limit for the first time in history.
Professor Adam Scaife, the head of long-range forecasts at the Met Office, which compiles data from weather and climate agencies worldwide, commented, “We really are now within reach of a temporary exceedance of 1.5C for the annual mean temperature, and that’s the first time in human history we’ve been that close.”
It is crucial for global efforts to intensify in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the accelerating pace of global warming, aiming to mitigate the potentially catastrophic consequences that would accompany a persistent breach of the 1.5C threshold.