Itty Bitty Climate Breach

Johnny Wentzel
Just a little bit GIF
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Like Sean Paul in a mid-2000’s nightclub, El Nino has been turning up the global Temperature in June to new heights, which could create challenges for Paris Agreement co-signers.

Background: Recently released data from the Copernicus Climate Chance Service indicates that in early June, global air temperature rose to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – a threshold that was the backbone of the Paris Agreement back in 2015.

It’s not the first time that global temperatures have broken the 1.5 degrees barrier, though.

  • In 2016, global temperature increases almost surpassed 2 degrees just 3 months after the Paris Agreement was penned. Late winter 2020 also saw a rise above 1.5 degrees, but the world was preoccupied with… something else at that time, so we should get a free pass.

Not-so-coincidentally, both of these instances occurred at the tail end of an El Nino, in the two hottest years on record. We’re not super jazzed about the rest of 2023 anymore.

We Be Burnin’ in 2023

In 2016, 2020, and even earlier this year, the 1.5 degrees barrier was breached during late winter in the Northern hemisphere – a time when global temperatures are typically the most variable. Earlier this month, global temperatures spiked above the Paris threshold for the first time ever in June, a time when temperatures are usually more stable and close to an annual low.

Yes, but: Although the 1.5 degrees limit has now been breached multiple times, it’s not the end of the world – at least not yet. The Paris Agreement outlines that the 1.5 degrees limit refers to a 30-year average temperature, not a daily or monthly snapshot.

Zoom out: For those keeping score, the current 30-year average temperature rise from pre-industrial levels is about 0.88 degrees. However, if current warming trends continue, it’s expected that global temperature rise could exceed 1.5 degrees permanently as early as 2035, but only if we don’t Get Busy fighting climate change.