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Expert comment, Europe experiences warmest year on record

The EU Copernicus Climate Change Survey reports today that globally, 2020 was tied with the previous warmest year 2016, while for Europe 2020 was the warmest year on record. Professor David Mond comments:-

"Today’s figures from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service show that in 2020 Europe reached the 1.5◦C temperature rise which the Paris Climate Agreement set out to prevent if at all possible. In Europe, average temperatures were an astonishing 0.4◦C higher than in 2019. And the most recent decade has been the warmest ever recorded.

"Climate news is coming thick and fast, and is almost too much to process. The Copernicus figures arrived a day after reports that if and when we achieve net zero carbon emissions, temperatures would stabilise after 20 years and would then begin to decline. This is encouraging if you have been reading the science – 20 years is quicker than many expected – but may be dismaying if you thought that net zero would mean no more temperature rise. How much warming should we expect? Another paper just published in Nature Climate Change raises the estimate from 1.3◦C to more than 2◦C – in other words, the Paris Agreement’s headline goal is already unachievable.

"How should we respond to this? While the UK’s carbon emissions reductions are admirable, if you factor in the carbon emissions we pay for in offshored manufacture, we do not look so good. The lonely sacrifice of individual comforts in the interest of the climate will not happen in sufficient numbers to make the needed difference. We need committed leadership, a much greater level of information, and a social movement through which people can change their consumption patterns together."

8 January 2021

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