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UN says extreme heat likely in five years

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By Abraham Adekunle

WMO predicts global temperature to breach the Paris Accords target.

In the last few years, there has been a rising debate and awareness on the subject of climate change, particularly global warming. However, the issue has been the subject of international debate for centuries. Africa and, by extension, Nigeria are part of the discussion. At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), 196 parties negotiated and adopted the Paris Agreement on December 12, 2015. It is a legally binding international treaty on climate change, whose overall goal is to maintain the global average temperature at below 2°C (3.6°F).

Since the signing of the agreement, Nigeria has been committed to ensuring that the Federal Government achieve net-zero carbon emission. At a later edition of the Paris climate conference (COP26), President Muhammadu Buhari made an announcement that the country is to achieve net-zero by 2060. On August 24, 2022, FG launched its Energy Transition Plan, which is tailored toward the twin objective of achieving universal energy access by 2030 and a carbon-neutral energy system by 2060.

United Nations agency predicts temp surge above pre-industrial times.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has predicted that greenhouse gas emissions might make the next five years the hottest period, even as the La Nina phenomenon has had a firm grip on the Pacific. La Nina is a natural phenomenon that is marked by cooler-than-average ocean temperatures. However, there is a prediction that its opposite, El Nino, will occur soon. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the term “El Nino” (which is Spanish for “the Christ Child”) refers to a warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

According to the WMO, the UN specialized agency whose mandate covers weather, climate and water resources, there is a 98 percent probability that global temperatures will rise above 1.5°C for at least one year, which is above pre-industrial levels. This prediction was released in the organization’s latest annual climate update, which was released on May 17, 2023. The WMO further clarifies that at least one of the next five years as well as the five-year period as a whole will be warmest on record.

Earth will still remain within the Paris benchmark.

It was at the 2015 Paris Agreement that countries agreed to cap the global warming at well below 2°C above average levels measured between 1850 and 1900 — and 1.5°C if possible. The report revealed that the global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15°C above the 1850-1900 average. The rise in the planet’s condition is caused by the increase in pollution from burning fuels and the arrival of El Nino. The world continues to burn planet-warming fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas such that the hottest eight years that were ever recorded were all between 2015 and 2022.

However, the WMO secretary-general, Petteri Taalas, said that the world will remain within the Paris Accord target. Taalas said that scientists consider the 1.5 degrees of warming as a critical tipping point, beyond which the chances of extreme flooding, drought, wildfires and food shortages could increase dramatically. The WMO report does not mean that the earth will permanently exceed the 1.5°C. Instead, the agency is sounding the alarm that the earth will breach the mark temporarily with increasing frequency.

Nigeria will bear the brunt of contributing much less to carbon emissions.

African countries are likely to be severely affected by the predicted heat wave. The secretary-general warns that an El Nino is expected to develop in the coming months. This occurrence will combine with human-induced climate change to push global heat conditions into uncharted territory. “This will have far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management and the environment. We need to be prepared,” he said. In particular, 118 million poor people are expected to be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat in Africa by 2030 if adequate response measures are not put in place. However, in all of this, Africa accounts for the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions, at just 3.8 percent, in contrast to 23 percent in China, 19 percent in the US, and 13 percent in the European Union.

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UNFCC: Website

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