Bernard Matagne / EyeEm / Getty Images/EyeEm The photo was taken in Perros-Guirec, France
Bernard Matagne/EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm
Climate: Europe is warming faster than the planet, according to the UN (pretext photo taken in Perros-Guirec, France)
ENVIRONMENT – The European continent is warming the fastest, registering a rise in temperature over the past thirty years that is more than twice the global average, the UN said on Wednesday, November 2nd.
Temperatures in Europe rose significantly over the period 1991-2021, with warming of about +0.5°C per decade, shows a report produced by the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the European climate service Copernicus.
“This is the fastest warming of the six regions defined by the WMO,” emphasized the Secretary General of the WMO, the Finn Petteri Taalas, in the foreword to this climate report in Europe.
“The Living Picture of a Warming Planet”
WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis told AFP that the Arctic, which is overall warming faster than Europe, is in fact not considered a distinct region by the organization. As a result of rapid warming in Europe, Alpine glaciers lost 30 meters in thickness between 1997 and 2021.
Another consequence is the gradual melting of the Greenland ice cap, which is accelerating sea level rise. In the summer of 2021, Greenland recorded rain at its highest summit station for the first time.
Europe “provides a vivid picture of a warming planet and reminds us that even well-prepared societies are not immune to the consequences of extreme weather events,” noted Petteri Taalas.
“In 2021, a series of extreme weather and climate events occurred in different parts of Europe. The exceptionally severe floods that caused unprecedented death and damage in parts of western and central Europe in July and the devastating fires that ravaged south-eastern Europe this summer will be remembered by affected nations and the international climatological archives,” he added.
On track for 2.6°C of warming by the end of the century
These severe weather and climate events have caused hundreds of deaths in Europe, directly affected more than half a million people, and caused over $50 billion in economic damage, according to the WMO. About 84% of the cases were floods or storms.
The report was released days before the opening of COP27, the UN climate change conference taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-18. The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 aims to keep the increase in the average temperature of the planet well below 2°C and preferably below 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial period.
But international commitments keep the Earth on track to warm 2.6°C by the end of the century, the UN warned in late October.
Irrespective of the progression of global warming, the rise in temperature in all regions of Europe will be greater than the planetary average, as observed so far, warns the WMO, a phenomenon that indicates heat, forest fires, floods…
“Europe can play a crucial role on the way to a carbon-neutral society”
However, not all news is bad, assures the organization, which points out that several European countries are doing very well in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. In the European Union, these emissions have already decreased by 31% between 1990 and 2020, with a target of a 55% net reduction by 2030.
According to Petteri Taalas, “Europe can play a crucial role in the emergence of a zero-carbon society before mid-century to comply with the Paris Agreement”.
Europe is also one of the most advanced regions in terms of cross-border cooperation on climate change adaptation, and around 75% of its population is protected from natural and weather disasters by effective early warning systems.
“After all, their action plans against heat waves have saved many lives,” argues the WMO.
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