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Earth Temperature Could Reach ‘Tipping Point’ Within Five Years, Study Warns

by : Emily Brown on : 21 Jul 2021 13:11
Earth Temperature Could Reach 'Tipping Point' Within Five Years, Study WarnsPA Images

A study by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) suggests Earth’s temperature could reach its ‘tipping point’ within the next five years. 

Last year marked one of the three warmest years on record, with the global average temperature being 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels, but the WMO has warned the worst could be yet to come as the chances of the temperature reaching 1.5°C are increasing with time.

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The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has established 1.5°C as a key tipping point for the Earth’s temperature, beyond which the risks of disasters such as extreme drought, fires, floods and food shortages will increase dramatically.

Earlier this year, the WMO, which is the world’s leading weather and climate organisation, warned that there is a 40% chance the annual average global temperature will reach the threshold in at least one of the next five years.

In a statement cited by CNN, Petteri Taalas, the WMO’s secretary-general, stressed the findings are ‘more than just statistics’.

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He continued: ‘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.’

Even if the threshold is not reached in the coming years, the WMO has said there is a 90% chance that at least one year between 2021 and 2025 will become the warmest on record, surpassing the current hottest record established in 2016.

The Paris Agreement aims to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5°C, but the world is already two-thirds of the way to the tipping point, with the annual average temperature likely to be at least 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels in each of the coming five years, according to the WMO.

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Taalas described the study as ‘yet another wake-up call’, commenting: ‘We are getting measurably and inexorably closer to the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The world needs to fast-track commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality.’

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, said that while there is a ‘little bit of up and down in the annual temperatures’, the long-term trends are ‘unrelenting’.

Per Reuters, he added: ‘It seems inevitable that we’re going to cross these boundaries, and that’s because there are delays in the system, there is inertia in the system, and we haven’t really made a big cut to global emissions as yet.’

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In order to reach the goal set out in the Paris Agreement, the IPCC reported that global greenhouse gas emissions must reach net zero by 2050.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Climate Change, Global Warming, no-article-matching, Now, Paris agreement, temperature

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  1. CNN

    It's getting more likely the world will reach a climate tipping point in the next five years