In Canada, the polar regions are warming faster than the rest of the world, already 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which will have dire consequences for the planet, the CBC reports.
Toronto. A report by the World Meteorological Organization suggests that global temperatures are expected to temporarily exceed pre-industrial levels by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next five years.
That 1.5C benchmark is important because the 2015 Paris Agreement and subsequent climate agreements set it as a threshold to limit the most devastating effects of climate change.
WMO is “sounding the alarm” about the increase; For every fraction of a degree that global temperatures rise, loss and damage are expected to increase.
But Canada, especially the fastest-warming polar regions, has already exceeded 1.5 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the average annual temperature in the country rose by 1.9C from 1948 to 2021. Experts say it may be difficult to quantify the importance of crossing this global threshold for Canada, but it still won’t happen. Good.
Failure to stop 1.5C warming
While the world could exceed the 1.5C threshold in the next five years, the World Meteorological Organization notes that the increase is not a straight line: annual temperatures may fall below the 1.5C threshold in the next few years.
The forecast is a significant departure from 2015, when the WMO said the chances of exceeding 1.5 degrees of global warming were near zero.
Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impact Consortium at the University of Victoria, says the world is likely to reach a point where temperatures are consistently above that threshold.
“It may take more than a few years, but eventually we will be in a situation where every year it is 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels,” he said.
Djordje Romanik, assistant professor in McGill University’s Department of Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences, says it’s important to look at long-term trends.
“There are huge swings from year to year,” he said. “So to get past that limit, we have to look at climate periods that are at least 30 years.”
The global 1.5C limit shouldn’t be ignored just because it has already been exceeded in Canada, Zwiers says, especially since Canada’s temperature is rising almost twice as fast as the global average.
“There’s a lot of volatility from year to year, but we’re warming up pretty quickly,” Zwiers said.
“You need to start thinking: ‘What are the impacts of three degrees above normal on Canadians?'” Zwiers said, noting that some of the expected consequences include more frequent and widespread warming events, increased glacier loss and May include changes in the habitat and habits of wildlife.
Rising temperatures are partly responsible for the increased risk of wildfires across much of Canada, says Zwiers.
A burnt metal sign hangs from a tree damaged by a recent wildfire in Drayton Valley Alta on Wednesday. Air quality statements are in place throughout British Columbia and the Prairie provinces as dozens of wildfires continue to rage in the region.
McGill’s Romanik notes that trends in temperature vary dramatically between different regions. For example, despite Northwest Canada’s relatively small population and low total emissions, research suggests that this region may be subject to the greatest variation in climate conditions.
Temperatures are rising at an even faster rate across northern Canada, where permafrost frozen for thousands of years is melting and critical transportation infrastructure is at risk: in the Yukon, warm winter temperatures disrupt access between communities doing.
The Northwest Territories implemented a heat advisory program in 2017 to warn of extreme heat during summer – the province has already warmed between 2 and 4 degrees since 1950.
“People who don’t contribute much may end up suffering more than people who contribute much, because the environment doesn’t care,” he said.
And now he?
While the global warming limit of 1.5C is likely to be exceeded in the next few years, this is not a change in which the climate moves from comfort to crisis.
Experts point out that every degree and fraction of a degree counts in terms of turning up the dial on the risk of wildfires, heat waves and other extreme weather.
“To prevent further increases in global average temperatures, you really have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially and get to a point we call ‘net zero,'” Zwiers said.
Canada aims to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which requires a review of a number of areas, including a 42 per cent reduction in emissions from the oil and gas sector.
It’s not an easy task, says Zwiers. “I think that what we can achieve as a global society is to stabilize the global average temperature at a new level, but unfortunately, we have to learn through adaptation to live at that new level.”
Rising temperatures are partly responsible for the increased risk of wildfires across much of Canada.