Science and TechClimate Change


UN warns next 5 years to be hottest period ever recorded

Experts warn that the entire period of 2023–2027 is expected to be the warmest ever recorded.
Steam rises from the coal-fired power plant.
Posted at 4:26 PM, May 17, 2023

The United Nations warns that there's a 66% probability that the global temperature will hit a key warming limit in the next five years.

The World Meteorological Organization says that global temperatures are more likely to surpass 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) of warming by 2027. Additionally, they emphasize a 98% probability that at least one of the next five years will set a new record for warmth, with the entire period of 2023–2027 expected to be the warmest ever recorded.

"A warming El Niño is expected to develop in the coming months, and this will combine with human-induced climate change to push global temperatures into uncharted territory," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

Thermometer with the ocean in the background.

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A NOAA scientist said additional temperature increases will "be very damaging to our way of life and our ecosystems that sustain us."


The 1.5°C target was set in 2015 as part of the Paris Climate Agreement in an effort to significantly cut global greenhouse gas emissions to ensure the rise in global temperatures within this century doesn't surpass 2°C.

"This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management, and the environment. We need to be prepared," said Taalas.

However, Taalas says that surpassing the 1.5°C levels does not mean we've failed the global goal.

"This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5°C level specified in the Paris Agreement, which refers to long-term warming over many years. However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5°C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency," said Taalas.

The probability of the five-year period surpassing the 1.5°C threshold is currently estimated at only 32%, says the WMO, adding that the probability of exceeding the 1.5°C threshold has been steadily increasing since 2015.