Climate change: The past eight years were the eight warmest on record for planet
The past eight years have been the eight warmest on record, as rising concentrations of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere push global temperatures toward a dangerous tipping point, a new report shows.
An analysis by the European Union’s Climate Change Service, Copernicus, published on Tuesday said 2022 was the planet’s fifth warmest year on record. It also reported that Europe recorded its warmest summer last year and the second warmest year overall, surpassed only by 2020.
Copernicus described 2022 as “a year of climate extremes” that brought record heatwaves to Europe, deadly floods in Pakistan, widespread extreme flooding in Australia and saw the Antarctic Sea reach its lowest minimum extent on record.
The report said the average annual temperature reached 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, marking the eighth consecutive year of temperatures at least 1 degree above the 1850-1900 reference period.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, most countries agreed to limit warming to below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, but preferably to 1.5 degrees.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified 1.5 degrees as a key threshold and said that breaching it would dramatically increase the risk of extreme weather events and irreversible changes.
Svitlana Krakovska, who heads the Ukrainian delegation to the IPCC, has an analogy for anyone wondering what difference a few degrees of warming can make.
“Your normal body temperature is 36.6. Now we have plus [1.2] degrees and we are already sick. And if we have 1.5, or 2, look at the difference. We cannot allow this,” she told CNN at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt in November. “Every part of the warm-up counts,” she said.
The Copernicus report also highlighted rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and methane, powerful greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet.
Before humans began burning large amounts of fossil fuels, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was about 280 parts per million. According to Copernicus, it reached an annual average of 417 parts per million in 2022, an increase of 2.1 parts per million compared to 2021. The data show that the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere has not been this high in about 2 million years, Copernicus added. .
The IPCC has said the world needs to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to have any chance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Scientists say the link between greenhouse gas concentrations and rising temperatures is unmistakable.
“The temperature record lows combined with unprecedented heat waves, droughts and intense rainfall and flood events across the planet, along with sustained global warming over the past decade, are all fully consistent with a warming the world’s fastest growing,” Richard Allan, professor of climate science at the University of Reading, told CNN in an email. Allan said this is happening because of “the additional warming effect of the greenhouse gases we collectively pump into the atmosphere”.
Scientists said 2022 was an unusually warm year despite the La Niña phenomenon, which has now been observed for three consecutive years and normally leads to cooler global average temperatures.
“It is very likely that recent La Niñas have masked some of the warming from global climate change,” said Marybeth Arcodia, a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University. She added that because El Niño – the opposite phase of La Niña – tends to cause higher-than-average temperatures, “it’s likely that when the next El Niño happens, the global average temperature will be higher than what we have seen in the past. several years.”
The Copernicus report comes just days after the UK Met Office announced that 2022 was the UK’s hottest year on record, with an average temperature of over 10 degrees Celsius recorded for the first time.
In a report published last week, the Met Office said that human-caused climate change has made record-breaking annual temperatures about 160 times more likely. Its scientists calculated that what would normally be about a “one in 500 annual temperature increase” is now likely every three to four years due to climate change.
Météo-France, France’s national meteorological service, said on Friday that 2022 was the hottest year in mainland France since records began in 1900, adding that eight of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2010 .
He said the extreme heat France experienced in 2022 was a “clear sign of climate change” and that similar temperatures could become the norm by mid-century.
Italy’s Institute of Atmospheric and Climatic Sciences said 2022 was the hottest year on record for Italy, while the German National Meteorological Service said 2022 was “at least” tied for the hottest year on record with 2018 and could to surpass 2018 once the final data is analyzed. this month.