UN predicts extreme heat in the next five years

THE World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has predicted that the next five years might be the hottest period due to greenhouse gas emissions and El Nino, a climate pattern that causes unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

The WMO is a specialised agency of the United Nations whose mandate covers weather, climate and water resources.

According to the WMO, between 2023 and 2027, there is a 98 per cent chance that the planet’s temperature will breach 1.5 degrees Celsius, warming above pre-industrial levels for at least one year.

The UN meteorological organisation made this prediction in its latest annual climate update, released on Wednesday, May 17.

“There is a 98-per cent likelihood that at least one of the next five years, and the five-year period as a whole, will be the warmest on record,” the WMO said.

“Global temperatures are soon set to exceed the more ambitious target set out in the Paris Climate Accords, with a two-thirds chance that one of the next five years will do so,”

According to the report, the 2015 Paris Agreement had countries agreeing to cap global warming at well below two degrees Celsius above average levels measured between 1850 and 1900 — and 1.5C if possible.

“The global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15C above the 1850-1900 average,” the report read.

The temperature increases are fueled by the rise of planet-heating pollution from burning fossil fuels and the predicted arrival of El Niño.

Global temperatures have soared in recent years as the world continues to burn planet-warming fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. The hottest eight years ever recorded were all between 2015 and 2022 — but temperatures as the WMO are still forecasted to rise as climate change accelerates. 

However, the WMO Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas, says the world will remain within the Paris benchmark.

In 2015, countries, including Nigeria, pledged in the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees – preferably to 1.5 degrees – compared to pre-industrial temperatures. 

According to Taalas, scientists consider the 1.5 degrees of warming as a critical tipping point, beyond which the chances of extreme flooding, drought, wildfires and food shortages could increase dramatically.

“This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5 degrees Celsius level 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 1.5 degrees Celsius level temporarily with increasing frequency.




     

     

    “A warming El Niño is expected to develop in the coming months and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory,” Taalas said. “This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment. We need to be prepared,” he said.

    African countries are likely to be severely affected by the predicted heat wave.

    The United Nations (UN) warned that Africa’s few remaining glaciers could melt away within two decades.

    “By 2030, it is estimated that up to 118 million, extremely poor people will be exposed to drought, floods, and extreme heat in Africa if adequate response measures are not put in place.”

    Beloved John is an investigative reporter with International Centre for Investigative Reporting.

    You can reach her via: [email protected]

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