Global warming: Scientists warn temperatures could reach dangerous levels in five years

Boris Johnson addresses political challenges at climate summit

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A report published by the World Meteorological Organisations (WMO) says there is a 40 percent chance annual temperatures will go beyond the level set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. The United Nations climate agreement, signed by 196 countries, set a limit on the annual increase in global temperature of 1.5C.

The predictions appear in the WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate update, which is led by Britain’s Met Office.

WMO secretary general Professor Petteri Taalas said: “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.

“This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – that we are getting measurably and inexorably closer to the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

“It is yet another wake-up call that the world needs to fast-track commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions.”

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Last year, the global average temperature was 1.2C above pre-industrial levels, making it among the three hottest years on record.

Global average temperatures of 1.5C above 19th century levels are seen as a threshold, with any temperature higher than that causing the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, dramatic efforts to cut carbon emissions by nearly half must be made by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 to keep to the 1.5C limit.

Current action promised by countries puts the world on track for 2-3C of warming by the end of the century.

The report also suggested there is a 90 percent chance one year between 2021 and 2025 becoming the hottest year on record.

In the coming five years, the annual mean global temperature is predicted to be at least 1C warmer, between 0.9C and 1.8C, than pre-industrial levels.

Professor Adam Scaife from the Met Office said: “Assessing the increase in global temperature in the context of climate change refers to the long-term global average temperature, not to the averages for individual years or months.

“Nevertheless, a temporary exceedance of the 1.5C level may already be seen in the next few years.”

Dr Stephen Cornelius, chief climate adviser at WWF, added: “Limiting global warming to 1.5C is of critical importance to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis on people and nature, but we know without global action we are at risk of reaching this threshold in the coming years.

“With so much at stake, governments must take urgent action to cut harmful emissions and restore nature, as these are essential steps to keep.”

The G7 summit is held in Cornwall next month. Boris Johnson has vowed to discuss tackling climate change with world leaders.

Mr Johnson has said he will ask G7 leaders to “build back better” from the coronavirus pandemic and “create a greener, more prosperous future”.

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