The last five-year period has been the warmest five years on record, said the UN's World Meteorological Organization.
The world could see average global temperatures 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial average for the first time in the coming five years, the UN weather agency said on Thursday.
The 1.5-C mark is the level to which countries have agreed to try to limit global warming. Scientists say average temperatures around the world are already at least 1 C higher now than during the period from 1850-1900 because of man-made greenhouse emissions.
The World Meteorological Organization said there is a 20 percent chance that the 1.5 C level will be reached in at least one year between 2020 and 2024. The period is expected to see annual average temperatures that are 0.91 C to 1.59 C higher than pre-industrial averages.
The forecast is contained in an annual climate outlook, spearheaded by the United Kingdom’s Met Office.
WMO chief Petteri Taalas said the study shows “the enormous challenge” countries face in meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris accord. The agreement sets a goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally no more than 1.5 C.
Annual mean global temperature likely to be at least 1° C above pre-industrial levels in each of coming 5 years (2020-2024).— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) July 9, 2020
And 20% chance it will exceed 1.5°C in at least one year, per new climate predictions issued by WMO and led by @metoffice#ParisAgreement #ClimateChange pic.twitter.com/MNO0H6UTAh
Pandemic's impact on environment
The WMO forecasts do not take into account changes in greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions due to the shutdown of economic and industrial activity triggered by the coronavirus crisis.
"Due to the very long lifetime of carbon dioxide 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," Taalas said.
The planet's average temperature is already more than 1.0 C warmer than the pre-industrial period, the WMO said.
Warmest five years on record
The last five-year period has been the warmest five years on record, said the Geneva-based United Nations agency, which counts 193 member states.
Almost all regions, except parts of the southern oceans, are likely to be warmer than the recent past, which is defined as 1981 to 2010.
However, there is only a three percent chance that the entire period would be 1.5 C warmer than that baseline level.
The northern North Atlantic region could have stronger westerly winds, leading to more storms in western Europe over the next five years.
High latitude regions and the Sahel are likely to be wetter than the recent past, the organisation predicted.
The WMO also said that in 2020 alone, many parts of South America, southern Africa and Australia are likely to be drier than the recent past.
Meanwhile, the Arctic is likely to have warmed by more than twice as much as the global mean.
It said the smallest temperature change was expected in the tropics and in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere.