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80% chance that 1.5°C goal of Paris Agreement may be breached over next 5 years, warns WMO

ByJayashree Nandi
Jun 06, 2024 08:34 AM IST

WMO warns 80% chance Paris Agreement's 1.5°C goal breached in next 5 years, with 86% chance of setting new temperature record. COP29 in Baku to focus on new financial goal.

There is an 80% chance that the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal will be breached during at least one (annual average) of the next five years, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update has warned. There is also an 86% likelihood that at least one of these years will set a new temperature record, beating 2023 which is currently the warmest year.

There is also an 86% likelihood that at least one of these years will set a new temperature record, beating 2023 which is currently the warmest year. (Getty Images)
There is also an 86% likelihood that at least one of these years will set a new temperature record, beating 2023 which is currently the warmest year. (Getty Images)

Breaching the 1.5°C threshold for a year is not equivalent to failing the Paris Agreement. The warning came even as Baku in Azerbaijan — on the coast of the Caspian Sea and a major producer of crude oil and natural gas — is preparing to host thousands of delegates from all over the world this November for the 29th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP29). The agenda of the UN climate meeting (COP29) at Baku is to negotiate a new financial goal to be set from the floor of USD 100 billion for the post-2025 period. This is expected to help developing countries transition to a low-carbon future.

The Paris Agreement sets long-term goals to guide all nations to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2°C while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5°C, to avoid or reduce adverse impacts and related losses and damages.

However, WMO’s projection is a stark warning that we are getting closer to the goals set in the Paris Agreement on climate change, which refers to long-term temperature increases over decades, not over one to five years, WMO said.

The global mean near-surface temperature for each year between 2024 and 2028 is predicted to be between 1.1°C and 1.9°C higher than the 1850-1900 baseline, according to the WMO report. There is an 86% likelihood that at least one of these years will set a new temperature record, beating 2023 which is currently the warmest year. Last year was 0.6°C warmer than the 1991-2020 average and 1.48°C warmer than the 1850-1900 pre-industrial level, according to EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.

“There is a 47% likelihood that the global temperature averaged over the entire five-year (2024-2028) period will exceed 1.5°C above the pre-industrial era, says the WMO Global Annual to Decadal Update – up from 32% from last year’s report for the 2023-2027 period,” the report said on Wednesday.

Further, the chance (80%) of at least one of the next five years exceeding 1.5°C has risen steadily since 2015, when such a chance was close to zero. For the years between 2017 and 2021, there was a 20% chance of exceedance, and this increased to a 66% chance between 2023 and 2027.

The update is produced by the UK’s Met Office, which is the WMO Lead Centre for Annual to Decadal Climate Prediction.

WMO released the data to coincide with a speech by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres calling for much more ambitious climate action ahead of the G7 Summit in Italy from June 13-15.

“We are playing Russian roulette with our planet,” Guterres said. “We need an exit ramp off the highway to climate hell. And the good news is that we have control of the wheel. The battle to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees will be won or lost in the 2020s – under the watch of leaders today,” he added.

Guterres also drew on supporting evidence from the European Union-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service implemented by the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts. This showed that each of the past 12 months has set a new global temperature record for the time of year.

Arctic warming over the next five extended winters (November to March), relative to the average of the 1991-2020 period, is predicted to be more than three times as large as the warming in global mean temperature, the WMO said adding that “predictions of sea-ice for March 2024-2028 suggest further reductions in sea-ice concentration in the Barents Sea, Bering Sea, and Sea of Okhotsk.”

Baku prepares for COP29

Because of its considerable hydrocarbon production, Azerbaijan has one of the world’s highest energy self-sufficiency ratios, with production exceeding demand almost four times, according to the International Energy Agency.

Electricity generation in Azerbaijan has increased by more than 50% since 2010 and is mostly generated by natural gas. It has a geographically strategic position with Armenia and Georgia to the west, the Russian Federation to the north, and the Islamic Republic of Iran to the south.

Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev, on Tuesday recalled how the country has managed to overcome several internal and external crises following independence in 1991 including civil war and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, due to its fossil fuel reserves. He was speaking at the 29th Caspian Oil and Gas exhibition at the Baku Energy Week.

“It is not easy, but we are ready for that... we are not to blame for having oil and gas... We must be judged not for having these resources, but for how we manage them, how we transform this wealth through the channels, how we build an inclusive society, and reduce poverty from 50% to 5% and foreign debt from almost 100% to 7.7%,” he said in his speech.

Aliyev said apart from finance, international cooperation will be their focus for COP29. “One of the most important results, if we achieve at COP apart from financing, will be putting down mutual accusations and stopping blaming each other for what is happening.

Aliyev further added that his country is seeing a stark impact of climate change on the Caspian Sea as its water level has reduced in recent years. “Every year, we see the sea is going away... Because the Caspian Sea is supplied by the rivers (Volga in Russia), which come from beyond our borders. We have zero responsibility for this catastrophe if we don’t take serious measures, we will face a major disaster,” he added.

Azerbaijan has said it hopes to see a “COP truce” or a “Peace COP”— when geopolitical hostilities are put on hold and all countries focus only on addressing the climate crisis and the outcome of climate negotiations.

Hikmet Hajiyev, Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Azerbaijan in a media briefing on Wednesday said “I hope to see the peace outcome or COP truce outcome in the agreement also. We are speaking with member countries and United Nations about it,” he said.

He added there is a kind of a “cold war conundrum” presently referring to various blocs and hostilities globally and that Azerbaijan is influenced by the Non-Aligned Movement and will use the philosophy to develop its strategy further.

Azerbaijan was the chair of NAM in 2019.

The other outcome that Azerbaijan is focused on is a financial deal on the new collective quantitative goal. “There is no number or quantum yet on what that goal is. But members are working on it in Bonn now and it will be again negotiated on,” he added.

Hajiyev said India and Azerbaijan shared a special friendship since the Soviet time and on a lighter note he grew up with Bollywood movies, and “it is an emotional relationship for people”.

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