Temperature increase may reach +1.5° in next five years

Stranded boat on a dried out shore by Lake Gruyère, which experienced less rainfall this year than usual. (Laurent Gillieron / KEYSTONE)

On July 8, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva released new climate predictions based on research led by the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre. There is a ~70% chance that one or more months during the next 5 years will be at least 1.5°C warmer than preindustrial levels, and a ~20% chance that one of the next 5 years will be at least 1.5°C warmer. Considering the impact of Covid, Secretary General Petteri Taalas stresses :

“Due to the very long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere, the impact of the drop in emissions this year is not expected to lead to a reduction of CO2 atmospheric concentrations which are driving global temperature increases.

Almost all regions, except parts of the southern oceans, are likely to be warmer than the recent past.

Why it matters. The world is on the path to breach the threshold considered safe by a large majority of scientists. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had informed of the severe risks for humanity associated with crossing the mark of a 1.5° global increase in average temperature.

While climate-friendly responses are today well identified, the road to their implementation is getting steeper by the day. A reduction of 7.6% is now required every year between 2020 and 2030 to limit global heating to 1.5°, and by almost 5% every year to stabilize the world at 2° beyond which irreversible damage will occur.

On its hand, Météosuisse reminds us that Switzerland is one of the climate hotspots in Europe, with a 2.1° warming since preindustrial times (double the world average). Its climatic scenarios predict a further increase of 2 to 3 degrees more by 2050 if radical transformation plans are not followed.

In November 2019, 11,000 scientists issued a warning to humanity in a landmark statement published in the journal Bioscience.

“The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”