Temperatures in Europe have risen more than twice the global average over the past three decades, according to the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which says Europe’s is the highest increase in the world.
"As the warming trend continues, exceptional heat, wildfires, floods and other climate change impacts will affect society, economies and ecosystems," said a report jointly released on Wednesday by the WMO and the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service.
The report focused on rising temperatures in 2021 along with land and marine heatwaves, extreme weather, and retreating ice and snow.
"Temperatures over Europe have warmed significantly over the 1991-2021 period, at an average rate of about +0.5 °C per decade," the report said.
As a result of the rising temperature, Alpine glaciers lost 30 meters in ice thickness from 1997 to 2021, while the Greenland ice sheet is melting and contributing to accelerating sea level rise, the report found.
Although the EU's greenhouse gas emissions fell 31% between 1990 and 2020 – still behind the 55% reduction target for 2030 – high-impact weather and climate events continued to disrupt the lifes of Europeans in 2021.
“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," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a statement. "This year, like 2021, large parts of Europe have been affected by extensive heatwaves and drought, fuelling wildfires. In 2021, exceptional floods caused death and devastation."
Talaas urged Europe to continue bringing down greenhouse gasses emissions, adding that Europe can play a "key role towards achieving a carbon neutral society by the middle of the century to meet the Paris Agreement."
“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 to develop innovative solutions to adapt to the new climate Europeans will have to live with,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service at the European Centre of Medium-range Weather Forecasts, in the same statement.