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World could break Paris climate agreement as early as next year

Global warming is set to hit 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

The world could break the Paris climate agreement - by next year, according to new research.

Global warming is set to hit 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

It will be due to a weather phenomenon known as the El Nino effect.

British scientists say average temperatures may rise by 0.3°C.

This would come on top of the existing 1.2°C increase since the late 19th century, fuelled by carbon dioxide emissions and other human activities.

Taken together, it would mean the international accord signed in 2015 had been contravened within a decade - temporarily, at least.

Lead author Professor Adam Scaife of the Met Office said: "If you add on a big El Niño then we are going to get close, potentially, to the first year of 1.5 degrees."

The study is based on an analysis of El Niño and another climate pattern called La Niña - which causes temperatures to fall.

Computer modeling showed the current three-year La Niña phase would end in March - and be followed by El Niño, reports New Scientist.

Prof. Scaife said: "At the moment, the vast majority of forecasts are going into El Niño in the latter half of 2023."

The fluctuating cycles are driven by sea surface changes in the equatorial Pacific.

El Niño is declared when temperatures in the eastern tropical area reach 0.5°C above the long-term average - and La Niña when they drop below.

Both trigger dramatic shifts across the planet - ranging from heatwaves in Britain and Australia to rainfall in South America and wildfires in the U.S.


El Niño can also drive up the global average temperature while it lasts. A strong shift is feared for later this year.

Last month, the Met Office predicted the anticipated swing will lead to 2023 being one of Earth's hottest on record.

It could bring rain to parts of Chile, Argentina and the southwest U.S., which have experienced lengthy droughts as a result of La Niña.

But it would probably disrupt Indonesia's monsoon season, impacting rice production and increasing the risk of severe heatwaves and wildfires in Australia.

Warmer seas also bring a heightened threat of bleaching in tropical coral reefs.

Even a mild El Niño will raise global temperatures - but not enough to breach 1.5°C.

Prof David Battisti, of the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash., who was not involved in the study, said: "It is probably a better than 50/50 bet there will be an El Niño. How big it is going to be is anybody's guess."

The Paris Agreement's goal is to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably 1.5, compared to pre-industrial levels.

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