The World Meteorological Organization has released a troubling report on the status of what is considered by scientists and governments to be an undesired impact of climate change: Europe has become recognized as the fastest-warming continent in the world, the WHO said.
The warming has been considered part of the cause of historic drought conditions and strong wildfires on the continent.
The global average for warming is at a rate of 1.2 degrees Celsius, the said.
The that in 2022, Europe was warming at a rate of 2.3 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) average.
Lawmakers and organizations are using the findings to push efforts to increase use of renewable energy, framing the situation as resolvable.
It was that rate which was used as the baseline rate for climate change for the Paris Agreement.
Petteri Taalas, a WMO Secretary, said, “For the first time, more electricity was generated by wind and solar than by fossil gas in the EU. Increasing use of renewables and low-carbon energy sources is crucial to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”
The data shows the increases in temperature are having an impact on economies. Spain had its fourth consecutive drier-than-average year, and drought conditions hit countries like neighboring France and Germany as well. Those countries have seen crop yields impacted because of the increase in temperature.
Taalas said, “In 2022, many countries in western and southwestern Europe had their warmest year on record.”
16,000 heat-related deaths happened in 2022 in Europe, with $2 billion in economic damage caused mostly by floods and storms, the WMO said.
The bright side for researchers is that, for the first time, the WMO says, there was more electricity generated by renewable sources like solar and wind, than by fossil fuels.