Climate Change

'We are in the warmest five-year period ever'

According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2015-19 has recorded a 0.2°C increase over 2011-15

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 27 November 2019

As the world descends on Madrid, Spain, for the 25th Conference of Parties (CoP 25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), they have a climate emergency to deal with. But the planet is yet to get a proportionate reaction from countries.  

By 2019, countries should have been on track to meet the first round of their emission reduction targets declared under the 2015 Paris Agreement. But only six of the world’s top 20 polluting nations have succeeded so far.

There is mounting evidence to show that global warming is at its highest level ever. According to Global Climate in 2015–2019, a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the five-year period of 2015-19 has been the worst in terms of global warming and resultant climate change impacts.

“The five-year period 2015–2019 is likely to be the warmest of any equivalent period on record globally, with a 1.1°C global temperature increase since the pre-industrial period and a 0.2°C increase compared to the previous five-year period,” the report said.

The report already forecasts that 2019 would be one of the warmest years on record. The last four years (2015 to 2018) were the four warmest years on record, according to WMO.

“Although only six months of data are currently available, (2019) will likely join them as one of the five warmest years — most likely second or third warmest — if temperature anomalies continue at the current high levels to the end of the year,” the WMO assessment said.

Last week, WMO, in another report, said that the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere had breached all records in 2018. It is the highest-ever in the last three million years.

The rise in temperature coincides with the proportionate increase in the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The five-year assessment shows that the emission of GHGs like CO2 and methane has increased faster in 2015-19 than in the preceding 2011-2015 period. The growth rate is close to 20 per cent higher, according to this report.  

The current year, already on path to be declared one of the warmest years on record, witnessed severe heat wave and wildfires from the United States, Australia and the Arctic. The new WMO assessment shows that the 2015-2019 period saw heatwaves impacting all the continents.

“Heatwaves were the deadliest meteorological hazard in the 2015–2019 period,” the WMO report said. Wildfires were reported in unusual geographies like the Arctic, including Greenland, Alaska and Siberia. The fires in the Arctic alone this year emitted 50 Mt of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is more than such fires did in 11 years ending 2018.

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