14 July 2020
The United Nations predicts worldwide temperatures over the next five years may at times rise to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, WMO, said the prediction suggests continued warming could present a challenge to climate change goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
That agreement seeks to limit world temperature rises through major cuts in human-caused greenhouse gases.
The WMO said in a new report there was a 20 percent chance the yearly average temperature will rise above 1.5 Celsius higher than the pre-industrial average levels in at least one year. The report identifies 1850-1900 as the pre-industrial period.
That does not mean that the average would be crossing the long-term target of 1.5 Celsius that scientists have set as the limit for avoiding catastrophic climate change.
The information came in a new WMO effort to provide shorter-range predictions of temperature, rainfall and wind. The predictions are designed to help nations learn how climate change may be affecting weather activity in their areas.
Temperatures over the last five years have been the warmest on record, the WMO reported. Temperatures over the next five years are very likely to be within the range of 0.91 to 1.59 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, it predicted.
Almost all of the world, except for parts of the southern oceans, are likely to be warmer than the recent past, which is defined as 1981 to 2010.
Southern Africa and Australia, where fires last year destroyed millions of hectares, will probably be dryer than usual through 2024, the report said. Africa's Sahel region is likely be wetter, while Europe should see more storms.
Maxx Dilley, the WMO's director of climate services, told The Associated Press the predictions are worrisome. "It shows how close we're getting to what the Paris Agreement is trying to prevent," he said.
Still, Dilley added that it would not be impossible for countries to reach the target set in Paris, of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, by the end of the century.
Petteri Taalas is WMO Secretary-General. He added, "While COVID-19 has caused a severe international health and economic crisis, failure to tackle climate change may threaten human well-being, ecosystems and economies for centuries."
I'm Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for Learning English, based on reports from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. was the editor.
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Words in This Story
greenhouse gases – n. a heat-trapping gas that warms the Earth's atmosphere
tackle - v try to deal with a problem
ecosystem – n. a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment