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World Meteorological Organisation shares climate report for Europe

Europe has been warming at twice the rate of the global average over the last three decades — faster than any other continent on the planet. This is the warning of the new “State of the Climate in Europe” report, which has been published by experts from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in tandem with the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) based on data from 2021. According to the report, temperatures in Europe have been rising at an average rate of around 0.9F (0.5C) per decade in the period spanning 1991–2021.

As a result of the rising temperatures, Alpine glaciers have thinned out by some 98 feet in the period from 1997–2021.

High impact weather and climate events in 2021 led to hundreds of fatalities, direct impacts for more than half a million people, and total economic damages in excess of £43.9billion.

About 84 percent of the weather events, the WMO noted, were either floods or storms.

Over in Greenland — which, geopolitically speaking, is considered part of Europe — the melting of the ice sheet is contributing to accelerating sea level rise.

In 2021, the country saw not only a melt event but also the first-ever recorded rainfall at the research station at Summit camp, the highest point on the Greenland ice sheet.

WMO Secretary General Professor Petteri Taalas said: “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.

“This year, like 2021, large parts of Europe have been affected by extensive heatwaves and drought, fueling wildfires. In 2021, exceptional floods caused death and devastation.

“On the mitigation side, the good pace in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region should continue and 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.”

The report stresses that many countries in Europe have been very successful at cutting down on their greenhouse gas emissions — with the European Union notably having slashed its levels by 31 percent between 1990 and 2020.

Furthermore, the union has set a target for the end of the decade of a net reduction in greenhouse emissions of 55 percent.

The WMO added: “Europe is also one of the most advanced regions in cross-border cooperation in climate change adaptation, in particular across transnational river basins.

“It is one of the world leaders in providing effective early warning systems, with about 75 percent of people protected. Heat-health action plans have saved many lives from extreme heat.”

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C3S Director Dr Carlo Buontempo said: “European society is vulnerable to climate variability and change.

However, he added, “Europe is also at the forefront of the international effort to mitigate climate change and to develop innovative solutions to adapt to the new climate Europeans will have to live with.

“As the risks and impact of climate change become increasingly apparent in day-to-day life, the need and the appetite grow for climate intelligence, and rightly so.

“With this report, we aim to bridge the gap between the data and the analysis to provide science-based but accessible information that is ‘decision-ready’ across sectors, across professions.”

The State of the Climate in Europe report was published on the World Meteorological Organization website.

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