Europe has warmed more than twice as much as the rest of the world over the past three decades and has experienced the greatest temperature increase of any continent, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization.
The report on the state of the climate in Europe follows a summer of extremes. A record-breaking heat wave scorched Britain, Alpine glaciers vanished at an unprecedented rate and a long-lasting marine heat wave cooked the waters of the Mediterranean.
“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,” WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
From 1991 to 2021, temperatures over Europe warmed at an average of 0.5 degree Celsius per decade, the report said, while the global average was just 0.2 degree C.
Last year, extreme weather events made worse by climate change — chiefly floods and storms — caused more than $50 billion worth of damage in Europe.
The reason Europe is warming faster than other continents has to do with the fact that a large part of the continent is in the sub-Arctic and Arctic — the fastest-warming region on Earth — as well as changes in climate feedbacks, scientists said.
For example, fewer clouds over Europe during the summer has meant that more sunlight and heat now reaches the continent, said Freja Vamborg, senior scientist with the Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Some scientists have called Europe a “heat wave hot spot” as the number of heat waves on the continent has increased faster than in other regions because of changes in atmospheric circulation.
Although temperatures are rising, the European Union has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 31% between 1990 and 2020, the report said, and it aims to slash emissions by 55% by 2030.
On November 6, delegates will arrive in Egypt for COP27, the annual U.N. climate summit.
French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are expected to attend. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision not to attend the COP27 climate summit is being kept under review, his spokesman said Monday.