Europe, living image of global warming due to climate change | Atalayar

Temperatures in Europe have risen more than twice the global average over the past 30 years, the highest of any continent in the world, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The State of Europe’s Climate Report reveals that as the continent’s warming trend continues, extreme heat, wildfires, floods and other effects of climate change will affect society , economy and ecosystems of the region.

Produced jointly with the Copernicus* service of the European Union on climate change, the report shows that temperatures in Europe have increased significantly over the period 1991-2021, at an average rate of around +0.5°C per decade.

As a result, alpine glaciers lost 30 meters of ice thickness between 1997 and 2021. Greenland’s ice cap is melting and helping to accelerate sea level rise. In the summer of 2021, Greenland experienced a widespread melting event and the first rainfall on record at its highest point, Summit Station.

In 2021 alone, extreme weather and climate events claimed hundreds of lives, directly affected more than half a million people, and caused economic damage exceeding $50 billion. Some 84% of these events were floods or storms.

It’s not all bad news. Several countries in Europe have been very successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, in the European Union, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 31% between 1990 and 2020, with a net reduction target of 55% by 2030.

Europe is also one of the most advanced regions in cross-border cooperation on adaptation to climate change, especially in transnational river basins. And it is one of the world leaders in providing effective early warning systems, with 75% of people protected. Heat action plans have saved many lives from extreme heat waves.

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But the challenges are great

“Europe presents a vivid picture of a warming world and reminds us that even well-prepared societies are not immune to the impacts of extreme weather events.. This year, as in 2021, large parts of Europe have been hit by widespread heat waves and droughts that have fueled wildfires. In 2021, exceptional floods caused deaths and devastation,” recalled the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization.

Professor Petteri Taalas said that with regard to the chapter on climate change mitigation, the good pace of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the region must continue while continuing to increase its ambition to counter the impact of climate change.

“Europe can play a key role in achieving a carbon-neutral society by mid-century and in delivering on the Paris Agreement,” said Professor Taalas.

“European society is vulnerable to climate variability and change, but Europe is also at the forefront of the international effort to mitigate climate change. and develop innovative solutions to adapt to the new climate that the continent’s citizens will have to live with,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus service on climate change at the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Future scenarios

According to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, weather, climate and water-related disasters are expected to increase in the future. The document finds that there is a high probability of:

  • temperatures will increase in all European regions at a rate above the global mean temperature, similar to past observations and independent of future levels of global warming
  • the frequency and intensity of extreme temperatures, including marine heat waves, will continue to increase under any greenhouse gas emissions scenario, with critical thresholds for ecosystems and humans of 2 degrees Celsius or more
  • summer rainfall in the Mediterranean will decrease, spreading to northern regions, while extreme rainfall and rainfall flooding will increase in all regions except the Mediterranean.
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Impacts of climate change on health

The health of Europeans is and will be affected by climate change in multiple ways, including death from increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as heat waves.

Health will also be affected by a range of diseases, with an increase in zoonoses and food-, water- and vector-borne well as mental health issues.

The deadliest extreme weather events in Europe are heat waves, especially in the west and south of the continent. The combination of climate change, urbanization and population aging in the region is exacerbating and will further exacerbate heat vulnerability.

Climate change-induced alterations in the production and distribution of pollens and spores may lead to an increase in allergic disorders. More than 24% of adults living in the European region suffer from various allergies, including severe asthma, while the proportion among children in the region is 30-40% and continues to rise.

Climate change also affects the distribution of vector-borne diseases. For example, ticks (Ixodes ricinus), which can spread Lyme disease and encephalitis.

According to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, around half a million premature deaths in the European region were caused by anthropogenic fine particle air pollution in 2019, of which a proportion important was directly related to the burning of fossil fuels.

It is estimated that 138,000 premature deaths per year could be avoided by reducing carbon emissions, which could save between $244 billion and $564 billion.

UNICEF, meanwhile, notes that some 125 million children, who are most vulnerable to extreme weather events, face a number of health risks in the region.

Impact on ecosystems and transport

Climate change is also having a serious impact on European ecosystems. For example, most damage from wildfires is due to extreme events to which neither ecosystems nor communities are adapted.

Climate change, human behaviors and other underlying factors are creating the conditions for more frequent, intense and devastating fires in Europewith major socio-economic and ecological consequences.

In terms of transport, transport infrastructure and operations are at risk of various consequences, as they have been built on the basis of historical values ​​of meteorological events and are therefore not resistant to current extremes.

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Climate policy

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the plans in which each country submits its climate action commitments under the Paris Agreement, embody efforts to reduce national emissions and adapt to climate change. impacts of climate change. As of March 2022, 51 European countries and the European Union have submitted such a plan.

Mitigation of climate change has been one of the main objectives of many European countries, in particular in the following areas:

  • energy supply
  • agriculture
  • waste
  • land use
  • land use change
  • forestry

In 2021, the European Union, in its climate law, made climate neutrality, the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, legally binding. An interim target of 55% reduction in emissions by 2030 has been set.

*The Copernicus service provides state-of-the-art climate monitoring data and tools to support climate change mitigation and adaptation and initiatives such as the European Green Deal.