Global temperatures are likely to surge to record levels in the next five years potentially devastating Australian farmers already struggling to manage climate change and water availability.
A report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) forecast “there is a 98 per cent likelihood that at least one of the next five years, and the five year period as a whole, will be the globe’s warmest on record”.
A rise in global temperatures will place increased pressure on Australian farmers in the wake of natural disasters, according to the Climate Council.
Climate councillor Professor Lesley Hughes said “there’s lots of crops that don’t do well in really hot temperatures and of course, if you get hot temperatures and a drought, one thing exacerbates the other”.
Earth has a 66 per cent chance of registering temperatures more than 1.5 degree higher than pre-industrial levels for at least one year between 2023 and 2027, the report said.
This rise in global temperatures would breach a key climate threshold that the UN’s 2015 Paris Agreement warned against.
WMO Secretary-General professor Petteri Taalas said “this report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5 degree level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years”.
“However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5 degree level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency,” he said
Farmers will be hardest hit
“Farmers are on the frontline of climate change and there’s probably no other profession that is so dependent on a daily basis on weather and climate,” Professor Hughes said.
“They know climate change is happening, they can see it on their farms, they know they have to adapt and they’re concerned about the future,” she said.
The WMO climate report shows parts of Australia and the Amazon are in for reduced rainfall this season.
“Farm work revolves around the availability of water and the temperature so it’s very sensitive to anything that happens with the climate,” Professor Hughes said.