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Europe is heating up twice as fast as other continents

Europe is heating up twice as fast as other continents

It turns out indeed, this is where climate action is needed most urgently

Last year’s severe droughts in Europe were no coincidence and were the harbinger of unpleasant times ahead. After all, it all comes to a point of understanding and comprehension with a new report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the EU’s Copernicus programme, which shows that Europe is in fact the continent that is most affected by global warming.

The State of the Climate in Europe 2022 report, which is the second edition of what will be an annual series, shows that the Old Continent has heated up twice as much as the global average since the 1980s.

Last year, the soaring temperatures indicated that Europe was almost 2.3°C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) average used as a baseline for the Paris Agreement on climate change.

That’s not cool, literally

The results of the report have been made into an interactive and informative presentation complete with stats and graphics that you can delve deeper into here.

All in all, the bad news is that several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom had their warmest year on record in 2022.

What’s more precipitation levels dropped due to an unusually long drought. It was the fourth dry year in a row on the Iberian Peninsula, and the third consecutive dry year in the mountain regions of the Alps and Pyrenees.

All of this spells severe trouble for fields like agriculture and energy production through hydropower sources.

Glaciers in Europe lost a volume of about 880 km3 of ice from 1997 to 2022. The Alps were worst affected, with an average reduction in ice thickness of 34 metres. In 2022, glaciers in the European Alps experienced a new record mass loss in one single year, caused by very low winter snow amounts, a very warm summer and Saharan dust deposition.

Silver lining of the dark clouds

The good news, however, is that Europeans are increasingly aware of their predicament and are some of the most involved societies when it comes to shifting to renewable energy production on a grand scale, although the effort is not equally dispersed across the continent. That is what still needs to be addressed.

The EU is committed to increasing renewable energy production to at least 42.5% of total consumption by 2030 – nearly double 2019 levels.

In 2022, in Europe wind and solar generated 22.3% of EU electricity, for the first time overtaking fossil fuel (20%), and coal power (16%), partly due to a big increase in solar power capacity.

Over the 30-year period 1991–2020, surface solar radiation has increased, whereas wind speed and precipitation do not show significant trend changes. However, there are also regional differences in the availability of each of these renewable sources in Europe, as well as seasonality.

Source: The Mayor