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Climate change to hit critical levels 'in the next five years'

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A father and son join a climate protest in London this week

A father and son join a climate protest in London this week

REUTERS

A father and son join a climate protest in London this week

Global warming could hit critical levels within the next five years, the world's leading science organisations have said - as they warned climate change had not stopped for Covid.

Latest assessments by the group show a 24pc chance of temperature rise exceeding the feared 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold by the end of 2024.

Reaching that point does not necessarily mean there is no going back, as temperature can fluctuate slightly from year to year, so global warming trends are tracked over longer periods.

But scientists say the forecast reinforces the need for "urgent and concerted action by all countries and across all sectors".

A global temperature rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is the maximum the earth can cope with before escalation of extreme weather events, ice sheet loss, sea level rise, floods and fires.

Ireland is one of almost 200 signatories to the Paris Agreement that requires countries to work to keep temperature rise below 2C and ideally  to 1.5C.

Emissions

These assessments come from the World Meteorological Organisation, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN Environment Programme, UNESCO, the Global Carbon Project and the UK Met Office, working under the joint banner of United in Science.

They say while emissions of carbon, the most problematic greenhouse gas, are down 4-7pc globally this year due to reduced economic activity during Covid restrictions, the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere is higher than last year due to the accumulation of emissions over many years.

They also warn 2016-2020 is set to be the warmest five-year period on record and there was below average quantities of Arctic ice formation in each of those years.

Sadhbh O'Neill of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition said: "The implication for Ireland is that we have to step up and do our fair share. While the Programme for Government is ambitious in a way that previous programmes were not, we still haven't seen emissions reductions kicking in.

Output

"When you think of the disruption we experienced during the Covid restrictions with town centres shuttered and traffic disappearing, yet the reduction in our energy demand was minute and our agricultural output and associated emissions increased," she added.

"It shows the scale of the challenge in decarbonising the system. Every part of it needs to be transformed."