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U.N. Report: Europe’s Temperature Rise Nearly Double the Global Average

Europe’s temperatures rising at nearly twice the global average, U.N. report warns

Europe, the fastest-warming continent, is experiencing temperatures rising at twice the global average, according to reports from the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization and the European Union’s Copernicus agency.

This alarming trend poses significant threats to human health, glacier melt, and economic activity. However, the report also highlights an opportunity for Europe to develop targeted strategies aimed at accelerating the transition to renewable resources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric power to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Last year, Europe generated 43% of its electricity from renewable resources, marking an increase from 36% the previous year. Renewable energy surpassed fossil fuels for the second consecutive year. However, despite this progress, temperatures in Europe have risen to 2.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, compared to the global average of 1.3 degrees Celsius higher, nearing the targets set by the 2015 Paris Climate Accord to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

U.N. Report: Europe's Temperature Rise Nearly Double the Global Average

U.N. Report: Europe’s Temperature Rise Nearly Double the Global Average (Credits: Al Jazeera)

Elisabeth Hamdouch, the deputy head of the unit for Copernicus at the EU’s executive commission, emphasized the trend of increasing temperatures and intensifying climate extremes in Europe. These include heat stress, wildfires, heat waves, glacier ice loss, and reduced snowfall. The report serves as a regional counterpart to the WMO’s global climate report, which issued a “red alert” warning about insufficient global efforts to combat the consequences of global warming.

Copernicus reported a record 10th straight month of monthly temperature highs in March, with the average sea-surface temperature across Europe reaching its highest annual level in 2023. The report also underscores the impact of high temperatures on human health, citing a rise in heat-related deaths across the continent, as well as losses from storms, floods, and wildfires, which amounted to more than 13.4 billion euros in 2023.

Carlo Buontempo, director of Copernicus, highlighted the substantial economic losses and human impacts caused by extreme weather events, including heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, and flooding. Glacier ice loss in the Alps, amounting to about 10% over the last two years, underscores the environmental consequences of rising temperatures. Despite these challenges, there are exceptions, such as below-average temperatures in Scandinavia and Iceland amidst the continent’s overall temperature rise.

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