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1.5°C – what does it mean and when will it happen?

31 March 2023

In 2015, nearly every nation on Earth signed an international treaty that committed the world to limiting global warming to “well below” 2°C and ideally no more than 1.5°C, relative to around 1850 to 1900.

So... how are we doing?

There is a 50:50 chance of the world hitting 1.5°C this year and indeed any year between now and 2027, according to the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organisation.

We could reach 1.5°C in the late 2020s under some scenarios, a separate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found.

Many parts of the planet have seen temperature rise of far more than 1.5°C, though. The most extreme example of this is the Arctic, which is 3.1°C hotter today than it was in the 1970s.

The plot twist? 

For the last three years, the world has been in a “La Nina” phase – a cool, wet global weather pattern. But an “El Nino” phase – the opposite of La Nina – is forecast to hit later this year.

The last time we had an El Nino was 2016 – the hottest year on record, closely followed by last year.

El Nino brings heatwaves and dry weather and, combined with global warming, it could make 2024 the hottest year on record.

The FFI take… 

We have just seven years left to halve global emissions and limit global warming in the long-term to 1.5°C, according to the IPCC. Businesses must take urgent action now to eliminate fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy. Fortescue is committed to bringing emissions from its mining operations to zero by 2030 – and to generating a global supply of green energy and green hydrogen.