New 1.5C milestone is ‘seismic moment’ for climate

Posted on 08 February 2024

This coincides with global greenhouse gas emissions also reaching an all-time high

Gland, Switzerland (8 February): New data from the Copernicus Climate Change Centre shows that the world endured 12 consecutive months with global warming of 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. This comes after other recent global surface temperature datasets showed record warming between 1.34oC and 1.54oC in 2023. This must give impetus to countries and businesses to accelerate their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, says WWF.

This is gravely concerning, but it does not mean that the world has passed the 1.5oC threshold referred to by the IPCC, UN and Paris Agreement. To do that would require the global average temperature to remain above 1.5oC for a 20-year average period. However, unless there is an immediate and deep reduction in emission across all sectors and regions, Earth is set to overshoot 1.5oC in the early 2030s. 

Dr Stephanie Roe, WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead Scientist, and IPCC AR6 Report Lead Author, said: “This new temperature milestone is a seismic moment for the climate. And it coincides with global greenhouse gas emissions also reaching an all-time high. Without considerable emissions reductions in the next few years, we will overshoot the long term 1.5oC threshold in the next decade, and then face the even greater challenge and cost of bringing temperatures back down to below that level. 

“Preventing every additional increment of warming matters now for people and nature. The more temperatures rise, the more extreme the impacts of climate change will be, and the higher the risk of tipping points and irreversible impacts to ecosystems and people’s lives and livelihoods. 

“It is crucial that countries rapidly align their policies and financial flows with what is needed to limit warming to below 1.5oC. That means peaking greenhouse gas emissions in the next year and reducing them by at least 43% by 2030. To do this, action to transform economies, energy and food systems, and to protect and restore nature must be at an unprecedented speed and scale. We have the solutions available now, we just need the will to make them happen in this critical decade.
“Finance is key to unlocking climate and nature action. The IPCC AR6 Report finds that we need to increase finance 3 to 6 times by 2030 to limit warming to below 1.5oC. Countries must significantly scale up finance now and work towards agreeing an ambitious new climate finance target at COP29.”