The European continent is warming at the fastest pace of any region in the world — double the global average — according to a new report by the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the European climate change service Copernicus.
Temperatures in Europe have risen dramatically over the period 1991-2021, warming by about +0.5°C per decade.
A WMO spokeswoman, Clare Nullis, said that while the Arctic as a whole is warming faster than Europe, it is not considered a region in its own right by the organisation.
As a result of the rapid warming in Europe, Alpine glaciers lost 30 metres in thickness on average between 1997 and 2021.
The WMO Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas, noted that Europe “offers a vivid picture of a warming planet and reminds us that even well-prepared societies are not immune to the consequences of extreme weather events,” Taalas noted.
High-impact weather and climate events caused hundreds of deaths in Europe, directly affected more than half a million people and caused economic damage in excess of €50 billion, according to WMO. About 84% of these were floods or storms.
The report was released just days before the opening of COP27, the UN climate conference taking place from 6 to 18 November in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
But international commitments so far leave the Earth on course for 2.6°C of warming by the end of the century, well above the 1.5°C limit recommended by scientists.
However, not all the news is bad, says the organisation, which points out that several European countries are doing very well in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.