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Climate: The past eight years have been the hottest on record

The past eight years have been the warmest globally, all exceeding pre-industrial temperatures by more than a degree, according to the annual report of the European Climate Change Program Copernicus (C3S) released on Tuesday.

Globally, last year ranked fifth, beaten only in recent years, and again marked by a parade of extreme events illustrating the consequences of global warming.

Despite the cooling effect of the La Niña weather phenomenon, 2022 is “about 1.2°C” warmer than the period 1850-1900, before the Industrial Revolution had its effects on climate, C3S says.

In Europe, the continent with the fastest warming, 2022 ranks as the ‘second hottest year’, but the summer months are a new record for the entire continent, largely defeated in Great Britain and exacerbated by the exceptional lack of precipitation in Spain, France or Portugal.

In these countries, as well as in Switzerland, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the year 2022 as a whole constitutes a new absolute temperature record since the beginning of the measurement record.

“Large parts of the Middle East, Central Asia, China, New Zealand, North Africa and the Horn of Africa” also set a new annual record, representing C3S.

‘Serious consequences’

In addition to temperatures, the planet has suffered from an avalanche of extreme events, as the report indicates: historic floods in Pakistan after an exceptional spring heat wave, heat waves and huge forest fires in Western Europe, and summer heat waves also in the center and east. China, devastating floods in Nigeria, drought in the Horn of Africa, etc.

On the other hand, due to La Niña, eastern Australia experienced relatively colder than average temperatures and very heavy rains.

In Antarctica, “the amount of sea ice in Antarctica is at a record or close to a record low” after reaching in February 2022 “the lowest ever recorded in 44 years of satellite observations.”

“2022 was another year of extreme weather events” that “shows that we are already seeing the devastating consequences of warming our planet,” commented Samantha Burgess, Vice President of C3S.

She added that these results “clearly show that to avoid the worst consequences, society will need to urgently reduce carbon emissions and adapt quickly to climate change.”

“climate chaos”

The report confirms predictions by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), published in November and described by UN chief António Guterres as a “climate chaotic reality”.

The global average temperature during the decade 2013-2022 is estimated to be 1.14°C higher than the pre-industrial era.

The Paris Agreement, concluded in 2015 under the auspices of the United Nations, aims to limit global warming to less than 2°C, if possible 1.5°C. While science has proven that every tenth of a degree multiplies severe weather, the more ambitious +1.5°C target has become a “survival” target.

To achieve this, however, countries around the world must meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets.

However, in 2022, recorded concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere reached a new record of “417 parts per million (ppm)” with an annual increase of “about 2.1 ppm, a similar rate to what has been it in recent years,” notes the European program.

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Methane concentrations, with a more intense but shorter warming force, are now at 1,894 parts per billion (ppb). They increased “by approximately 12 parts per billion, which is above average, but lower than the records of the last two years,” he specifies.