Rising temperatures in Europe indicate climate action is needed urgently.
Last year’s severe droughts in Europe were no coincidence, and are a signal of unpleasant times ahead. Findings from the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the EU’s Copernicus programme, show that Europe is the continent most affected by global warming.
The 2nd edition of the annual State of the Climate in Europe 2022 report reveals that Europe has heated up twice as much as the global average since the 1980s.
Last year, soaring temperatures indicated that Europe was almost 2.3°C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) average, which was used as a baseline for the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The State of the Climate in Europe 2022 report has been made into an interactive and informative presentation complete with statistics and graphics.
Several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom recorded their warmest year on record in 2022.
In 2022 precipitation levels also 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.
These findings indicate 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.
Hope ahead for Europe, with action needed
Europeans are becoming increasingly aware of their predicament and are from some of the societies that contribute the most when it comes to shifting to renewable energy production on a grand scale. However, efforts are not equally dispersed across the continent, which 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 the levels of 2019.
In 2022, 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 period 1991–2020, surface solar radiation has increased, whereas wind speed and precipitation have not shown significant trend changes. There are also regional differences in the availability of each of these renewable sources in Europe, as well as seasonality.