Global temperatures likely to hit at least 1C warming for next five years

There is a one-in-five chance annual global temperatures will be at least 1.5C warmer than in pre-industrial times in the next five years, experts have said.

Annual global temperatures are likely to be at least 1C above the levels they were before the industrial era in each year between 2020 and 2024, a long-range forecast by experts led by the UK Met Office shows.

And there is a 20% likelihood that annual temperatures will exceed 1.5C above pre-industrial levels in at least one year, with the chances increasing over time, according to the analysis published by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Under the global Paris agreement countries have committed to keep temperature rises “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to curb them to 1.5C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

While experts say a single year exceeding 1.5C does not mean the targets have been breached, it shows how close to that level the world already is.

The forecast marks a new international collaboration coordinated by the WMO and led by the Met Office, drawing on analyses from climate prediction centres in the UK and nine other countries including Australia, the US and China.

The climate forecast also predicts there will be enhanced warming of the Arctic, compared to other regions of the world, and there will be an increased risk of storminess across the Atlantic Ocean. It also says that this year, many parts of South America, southern Africa and Australia are likely to be dryer than the recent past.

The Earth’s average temperature is already more than 1C over the pre-industrial era, and the last five-year period has been the warmest five years on record.

WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said: “This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – the enormous challenge ahead in meeting the Paris agreement on climate change target of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5C.”