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A report says Europe is warming faster than the rest of the world, at almost twice the average global rate

Two leading climate monitoring groups say Europe is getting warmer faster than any other continent, with temperatures rising about twice as fast as the global average. The World Meteorological Organization and the European Union’s climate agency are also expressing concerns

By JAMEY KEATEN (Associated Press)

In Naples, Italy, two top climate monitoring organizations reported that Europe is warming at about twice the global average. They also warned about the consequences for human health, glacier melt, and economic activity.

The U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization and the European Union’s climate agency, Copernicus, stated in a joint report that Europe has the chance to create specific strategies to speed up the transition to renewable resources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric power to address the effects of climate change.

The report on the European State of the Climate for last year indicated that the continent produced 43% of its electricity from renewable resources, an increase from 36% the previous year. For the second year in a row, Europe generated more energy from renewables than from fossil fuels.

According to the report, the latest five-year averages show that temperatures in Europe are now 2.3 degrees Celsius (4.1 Fahrenheit) higher than pre-industrial levels, compared to 1.3 degrees Celsius globally. This is just under the targets set in the 2015 Paris climate accord to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Elisabeth Hamdouch, the deputy head of unit for Copernicus at the EU’s executive commission, commented, “Europe experienced another year of rising temperatures and worsening climate extremes, including heat stress with record temperatures, wildfires, heat waves, glacier ice loss, and lack of snowfall.”

The report complements WMO’s global climate report, which has been published annually for three decades, and this year included a “red alert” warning that the world is not doing enough to combat the consequences of global warming.

Copernicus reported that March was the 10th consecutive month of record monthly temperatures. The average sea-surface temperature for the ocean across Europe reached its highest annual level in 2023, as stated in the Europe report.

This year, the European report focuses on the impact of high temperatures on human health, noting an increase in heat-related deaths across the continent. It reported that more than 150 lives were lost directly last year due to storms, floods, and wildfires.

The economic losses from weather- and climate-related issues in 2023 were estimated to be over 13.4 billion euros (approximately $14.3 billion).

Copernicus director Carlo Buontempo said, “Hundreds of thousands of people were affected by extreme climate events in 2023, causing large losses at the continental level, estimated to be at least in the tens of billions of euros.”

The report mentioned that extreme weather led to heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and flooding. High temperatures have contributed to a decline in glacier ice in Europe, including in the Alps, which lost about 10% of their remaining glacier ice over the last two years..

However, the report’s authors noted some exceptions, such as temperatures being below average in Scandinavia and Iceland, although they were higher than average across much of the continent as a whole.

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