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Temperatures in Europe rise at twice the global average — UN

November 2, 2022

The continent has seen temperatures rise at a rate more than double that of the rest of the world over the past thirty years. At the same time, European countries had significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Tourists walking on the Tsanfleuron glacier, missing the ice that covered it for at least 2,000 years
Alpine glaciers lost 30 meters in ice thickness from 1997 to 2021, according to a joint report issued by the World Meteorological OrganizationImage: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Warming temperatures in Europe have risen more than double the global average, according to a new report published on Wednesday.

The report was issued jointly by the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service.

"Temperatures over Europe have warmed significantly over the 1991-2021 period, at an average rate of about +0.5 °C per decade," the WMO said in a statement.

Europe's Alpine glaciers melting

The rise in temperatures resulted in Alpine glaciers losing 30 meters in ice thickness from 1997 to 2021.

Greenland's ice sheet was also found to be melting and was contributing to an acceleration in rising sea levels.

"Europe presents a live picture of a warming world and reminds us that even well-prepared societies are not safe from impacts of extreme weather events," WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

During the summer of 2021, a melt event in Greenland saw "the first-ever recorded rainfall at its highest point," the WMO said.

Weather related events had resulted in hundreds of fatalities which had directly affected more than half a million people and caused damage in excess of $50 billion, with around 84% of these events being floods or storms.

The deadliest extreme climate events in Europe were found to be heatwaves, particularly in western and southern Europe.

How can we adapt to climate change?

EU countries reduce emissions by 31% — WMO

It wasn't all bad news with the report pointing out that a number of countries in Europe had successfully cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In the EU, greenhouse gas emissions had decreased 31% between 1990 and 2020.

"On the mitigation side, the good pace in reducing greenhouse gases emissions in the region should continue and the ambition should be further increased. Europe can play a key role towards achieving a carbon neutral society by the middle of the century to meet the Paris Agreement," said Taalas, referring to a 2015 international climate deal.

The report included input from national meteorological and hydrological services, climate experts, regional bodies along with UN partner agencies. It comes ahead of the annual UN Climate Change summit, COP27, in Sharm-El Sheikh, Egypt.

kb/es (AFP, Reuters)