Among the places, Europe has now been dubbed the fastest warming continent in the world, according to a new report.
The “State of the Climate in Europe 2022” report, the second in an annual series, was produced jointly by the World Meteorological Organization and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
According to the report, Europe has been warming twice as much as the global average since the 1980s. In 2022, Europe was approximately 2.3 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial revolution average.
Several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. had their warmest year on record in 2022, according to the report.
Europe’s 2022 annual average temperature was between the second and fourth-highest on record, with an anomaly of about 0.79 degrees Celsius above the average between 1991 and 2020.
Here, it is also relevant to know how ‘lungs of the planet’ – Amazon Rain Forest is facing large scale deforestation. Some 20% of the forest has already been destroyed, thereby affecting the global warming.
Fastest warming continent in the world
In Europe, which is now the fastest warming continent in the world, about 67% of the events were flood- and storm-related, accounting for most of the total economic damages of about US$ 2 billion. Much more severe, in terms of mortality, were the heatwaves, which reportedly led to more than 16000 excess deaths, says the report.
France had its driest January to September, and the United Kingdom and Uccle (Belgium) had their driest January to August since 1976, with far-reaching consequences for agriculture and energy production. Spain’s water reserve decreased to 41.9% of its total capacity by 26 July, with even lower capacity in some basins.
Glaciers in Europe lost a volume of about 880 km3 of ice from 1997 to 2022. The Alps were worst affected, with an average reduction in ice thickness of 34 meters. In 2022, glaciers in the European Alps experienced a new record mass loss in one single year, caused by very low winter snow amounts, a very warm summer and Saharan dust deposition.
Average sea surface temperatures across the North Atlantic area were the warmest on record and large portions of the region’s seas were affected by strong or even severe and extreme marine heatwaves.
The rates of surface ocean warming, particularly in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic and Black Seas, and the southern Arctic were more than three times the global average.
CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS
Although Europe is the fastest warming continent in the world, in 2022, wind and solar generated 22.3% of EU electricity, for the first time overtaking fossil fuel (20%), and coal power (16%), partly due to a big increase in solar power capacity, according to EMBER’s European Electricity Review.
Solar generation rose by a record 39 TWh (+24%) in 2022, helping to avoid €10 billion in gas costs. This was due to record installations of 41 GW in 2022, 47% more than was added in 2021. Twenty EU countries achieved their highest ever share of solar electricity.
Additionally, annual surface solar radiation in 2022 was the highest since the start of records in 1983, 4.9% above the 1991-2020 average.
Generally, more surface solar radiation is available in the south of Europe due to the solar angle and reduced cloud coverage. Wind power potential is higher over the ocean, especially off the coast of Ireland and Portugal and the Aegean Sea. Hydropower is directly linked to the topography of Europe.
Over the 30-year period 1991–2020, surface solar radiation has increased, whereas wind speed and precipitation do not show a significant trend.
LOWER DEMAND FOR ELECTRICITY IN EU
Europe, the fastest warming continent saw a substantial fall in electricity demand of 7.9% in the fourth quarter of 2022, close in scale to that witnessed during the most extreme lockdowns, when demand fell by 10.2% in Q2 2020.
Mild temperatures played a role in lower demand: October, November and December in 2022 were warmer by 1.9, 0.8 and 0.9 degrees celsius respectively across Europe compared to 2021. However, temperature explains only part of this fall in demand.
The 8% drop in electricity demand in Q4 2022 was the primary factor in the 9% fall in coal and gas generation over the same period. Coal generation fell for four consecutive months, and gas generation for two. This was despite French nuclear availability remaining low until late December.