World has been breaching key 1.5C threshold for the last year, scientists warn

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The last 12 months have all been over the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees of global warming, according to a new analysis of temperature data.

Global average temperatures from June 2023 to May 2024 were 1.63 degrees above the 1850-1900 “pre-industrial” baseline according to Copernicus, the EU’s climate monitoring service.

A short-term annual breach isn’t the same as global warming remaining consistently above 1.5 degrees compared to the average for pre-industrial times that global climate negotiations are trying to avoid.

But it is a reminder of how temperatures continue to rise in line with carbon emissions from human activities and the importance of ongoing efforts to reduce them.

“It is shocking but not surprising that we have reached this 12-month streak,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

“While this sequence of record-breaking months will eventually be interrupted, the overall signature of climate change remains and there is no sign in sight of a change in such a trend.”

The findings come as the World Meteorological Organisation warns at least one of the next five calendar years will also exceed 1.5 degrees or warming.

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With greenhouse gas emissions back at pre-COVID levels, the World Meteorological Organisation concludes average global surface temperatures for each year between 2024 and 2028 are predicted to be between 1.1 and 1.9 degrees warmer than the 1850 to 1900 average.

They find there is an 86% chance at least one of the next five years will be warmer than 2023, the previous warmest year on record globally.

“We are playing Russian roulette with our planet,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“The battle to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees will be won or lost in the 2020s – under the watch of leaders today.”

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Dozens die in record breaking heatwave

The warning comes as officials are gathered in Bonn, Germany, for an update on progress on international climate negotiations ahead of the COP 29 global climate summit in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November.

Global average temperatures for May 2024 were the highest on record, according to Copernicus.

The month was 0.65 degrees warmer than the average for May between 1991 and 2020. May 2024 was also the 12th consecutive month in which average temperatures were the highest ever recorded globally.

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While the rise in global carbon emissions has slowed significantly in recent years, they have not yet peaked. And despite agreements reached at COP 28 in Dubai to triple the amount of renewable energy generated worldwide by 2030, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned on Monday most countries are not yet on track to meet that target.

Current renewable energy deployment plans fall about one-third short of meeting the 2030 agreement.

Read more:
Delhi temperature hits 52C
Asian hornets survive UK winter
UK had its warmest May and spring

The IEA estimates around 8,000 GW of renewable energy will be deployed worldwide by the end of the decade.

Wind and solar projects in China alone make up 3,180 GW of that total.

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