Global warming of 1.5ºC to be reached this year

FILE PHOTO: Flames and smoke rise from a line of trees as a wildfire burns at the Dadia National Park on the region of Evros, Greece, September 1, 2023. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis/File Photo

There has been extensive discussion regarding the 1.5°C target for the global average temperature rise, with concerns that this threshold might be surpassed by 2030. Nevertheless, an increasing number of researchers assert that this year, marked as the warmest on record due to consecutive yearly weather measurements, will witness a faster breach of the 1.5°C mark than initially anticipated.

Amidst the ongoing debates at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, where diverse regions hold different climate goals, several climatologists suggest a shift in messaging concerning the 1.5°C target. Rather than underlining the imperative to avoid exceeding this level at all costs, they propose acknowledging the likelihood of surpassing it and focusing on measures that can eventually bring temperatures back below 1.5°C in the future.

The concept of a 1.5°C temperature increase was first introduced in 2009 during the COP 15 summit in Copenhagen. However, at that time, it was still a tentative notion, and scientific evidence on the associated effects was in the early stages of collection, making consensus premature.

The Paris Agreement of 2015 saw governments committing to keeping the global average temperature increase well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. An IPCC report indicated a high probability of surpassing the 1.5°C threshold by 2030. Recent estimates from the Met Office (UK) even suggest that this critical level could be exceeded as early as 2024, signalling a concerning acceleration of global warming.

While fluctuations are expected, a 1.5°C increase in 2024 or 2025 doesn’t necessarily imply a sustained elevation above that level in subsequent years. Numerous climatologists stress the unrealistic nature of expecting humanity to consistently stay below the 1.5°C threshold in the years ahead compared to pre-industrial times.

The World Meteorological Organisation has confirmed that 2023 is poised to become the warmest year on record, surpassing pre-industrial levels by more than 1.3°C. The Met Office’s projection for 2024 indicates a global temperature increase ranging from 1.34°C to 1.58°C compared to the period of 1850-1900.

As of the spring of 2023, climatologists initially predicted that this year might rank among the top 5 warmest years. However, after exceptionally warm months, particularly in July, it has become evident that 2023 will indisputably be the warmest year on record. The global temperature for the January-October 2023 interval rose by 1.40°C compared to the second half of the 19th century, exceeding previous Met Office estimates from the end of the previous year (1.08 – 1.32°C, with an average of 1.20°C).

The Met Office underscores that over the past 11 years, the global average temperature has consistently remained more than 1.0°C above pre-industrial levels, with each decade witnessing an average increase of 0.2°C, highlighting the cumulative and concerning nature of these temperature trends.

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