The World of International Organizations

WMO reports world near Paris accord limit

An iceberg floats in Disko Bay near Ilulissat, Greenland (AN/Saskia Madlener)
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GENEVA — Global warming has made it 70 percent likely that one or more months of global average temperatures between 2020 and 2024 will exceed the preferred limit under the Paris Agreement on climate change, the World Meteorological Organization said on Wednesday.

And there is a 24 percent chance that at least one of the years during the first half of this decade will exceed the limit of 1.5 degrees Celcius in warming above pre-industrial times, but only a 3 percent chance of the five-year mean exceeding that level, according to the United in Science 2020 Report from WMO and other international organizations.

The report by WMO, Global Carbon Project, UNESCO, U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, U.N. Environment and U.K.’s Met Office highlights what it calls increasing and irreversible impacts of climate change — affecting glaciers, oceans, economies and human living conditions — and the ways that the coronavirus pandemic impedes global monitoring of climate change.

“This has been an unprecedented year for people and planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives worldwide. At the same time, the heating of our planet and climate disruption has continued apace,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in the report’s foreword.

“Never before has it been so clear that we need long-term, inclusive, clean transitions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development,” he said. “We must turn the recovery from the pandemic into a real opportunity to build a better future. We need science, solidarity and solutions.”

The 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal among almost 200 nations is to keep global average temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees C. above pre-industrial levels, or 1.5 degrees C. if possible. WMO has previously reported the world officially crossed the halfway point to the 2 degrees C. limit.

The U.N. weather agency said in March that increasing land and ocean heat, accelerating sea level rise and melting ice all contributed to 2019 ending with global average temperatures 1.1 degree C. above estimated pre-industrial levels, second only to the record set in 2016 when a strong El Niño event contributed to an increased global mean temperature atop the overall warming trend.

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