Global warming twice as fast in Europe as in rest of world, study says – The Washington Post
“The year 2021 presented a live picture of a warming world and reminded us that even those societies we consider better prepared are not safe from severe impacts of extreme weather events,” WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas wrote in the report’s foreword, noting the exceptional floods and wildfires that hit the continent last year.
More than half a million people were “directly affected” by major weather and climate events — mostly storms or flooding — at a cost of more than $50 billion, the report said.
The report noted exceptionally high temperatures and heat waves, including what is believed to have been a European record of 48.8 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit), measured in Sicily, Italy, in August 2021.
Rising temperatures also had a significant impact on Europe’s glaciers: The Alps recorded a loss of 30 meters (98 feet) of ice thickness between 1997 and 2021, and the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet contributed to a rise in global sea levels.
In Europe, more temperature records were broken this year, with England and France experiencing their driest July on record, Britain recording its highest-ever temperature, 104.5 degrees, and glaciers melting at an unprecedented rate.
Extreme weather events also were recorded in winter, with unusually heavy snowfall affecting Spain and Norway, and an unexpected cold snap causing severe damage to vineyards and other crops in winter 2021.
Meanwhile, world leaders and diplomats are preparing for this year’s U.N. climate change summit, known as COP27, in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The report acknowledged some progress by the European Union in the fight against climate change, highlighting a 31 percent reduction in greenhouse gases in the region from 1990 to 2020. The bloc has previously outlined plans to reduce emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
Taalas, the WMO chief, called for Europe to further its aims to reduce climate change, calling it “a necessary requirement to limit global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees, as specified in the Paris agreement.”