This year will be the hottest on record and 2016 could be hotter due to the El Niño weather pattern, the World Meteorological Organization said on Wednesday, warning inaction on climate change could see temperatures rise by 6 degrees Celsius or more.
But decisions taken at a summit of world leaders in Paris starting on Monday could keep global temperature rises within 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times, a target set down in 2010 to try to prevent dangerous climate change.
“Yes, it’s still possible to keep to the 2 degree target but the more we wait for action the more difficult it will be,” WMO director-general Michel Jarraud told a news conference.
“You have scenarios assuming very strong decisions, very quick and sharp reduction of greenhouse gases, and you have other scenarios with business as usual, where you end up with predictions of additional warming of 5, 6 degrees, maybe even more. That will very much depend on the decisions (in Paris).”
Global average surface temperatures in 2015 were likely to reach what the agency called the “symbolic and significant milestone” of 1C above the pre-industrial era.
“This is due to a combination of a strong El Niño and human-induced global warming,” the WMO said in a statement.
Jarraud said El Niño may be responsible for 16-20 percent of the rise and longer-term averages showed temperatures were rising regardless of El Niño or its cooling counterpart La Niña.
El Nino, a naturally occuring weather pattern marked by warming sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, causes extremes such as scorching weather, droughts and flooding around the world. Meteorologists expect El Niño to peak between October and January and to be one of the strongest on record.
A preliminary estimate based on data from January to October showed the global average surface temperature for 2015 was around 0.73C above the 1961-1990 average of 14C and around 1C above the pre-industrial 1880-1899 period, the WMO said.
“This is all bad news for the planet,” Jarraud said.
The years 2011-2015 have been the hottest five-year period on record, with temperatures about 0.57C (1.01 Fahrenheit) above the 1961-1990 reference period.
Global ocean temperatures were unprecedented during the period, and several land areas -- including the continental United States, Australia, Europe, South America and Russia -- broke temperature records by large margins.
“The world’s ten warmest years have all occurred since 1998, with eight of them being since 2005,” the WMO said.
Next year may be even warmer -- levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to a new record every year for the past 30 years and El Niño is likely to continue into 2016.
“The year whose annual mean temperature is likely to be most strongly influenced by the current El Niño is 2016 rather than 2015,” the WMO said.
France: 147 world leaders to attend Paris climate summit147 heads of state and government have confirmed their attendance of the climate summit commencing next week in Paris just two weeks after the Paris massacre. World News
Syria war linked to climate change: Prince CharlesPrince Charles said there was enough evidence to suggest that a drought was one of the reasons for the crisis in Syria Variety
France to go ahead with climate change summitAlmost 200 nations are due to meet beginning of December to finalize an agreement to limit global warming World News
Saudi Arabia says will diversify oil economy to slow climate changeSaudi Arabia plans to diversify its economy to combat climate change in a move that could reduce 130 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year by 2030 Energy
Elton John, Bon Jovi to headline 24-hour climate concertPerformance aimed at urging environmental action ahead of key climate change talks in Paris Variety
Obama talks about climate change in his first Facebook postThe political motive of the post was to urge support for tackling climate change Variety
World Bank: Climate change could push 100 million into povertyClimate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture and fueling the spread of diseases Banking & Finance
Vladimir Putin to attend Paris climate summit: FranceMore than 100 heads of state and government have confirmed they will attend the U.N. Climate summit World News
China, France agree on need for climate compliance checksThe two also re-iterated that the deal should be legally binding World News
Climate curbs will slow temperature rise, more needed for 2C goal: U.N.Scientists say warming must be kept below 2 degrees by the end of the century to stave off the worst effects of climate change Variety