- Europe's average annual temperature in 2020 was the highest on record.
- It was at least 0.4 degrees Celsius above the next five warmest years.
- The increases in global temperature were felt around the world, with record-breaking wildfires in the Arctic.
Europe experienced its hottest year on record last year, while the Arctic suffered a summer of extreme wildfires partly due to low snow cover as climate change impacts intensified, the European Union's observation service said on Thursday.
As world leaders prepared to brandish their plans to fight climate change at a U.S.-led summit on Thursday, EU scientists issued a stark reminder that the impacts of a warmer world are already here.
Have you read?
Europe's average annual temperature in 2020 was the highest on record and at least 0.4 degrees Celsius above the next five warmest years -- all of which took place in the last decade, the Copernicus Earth observation service said.
"Temperatures are increasing in all seasons in Europe," said Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at Copernicus.
Copernicus' temperature records go back to 1950. But last year was also Europe's hottest on record when checked against datasets beginning in 1850, it said.
It was the hottest winter on record, at 3.4 degrees Celsius above the average European winter temperature seen during 1981-2020.
It was also Europe's warmest autumn, while summer heatwaves were not as intense or prolonged as in recent years, despite pockets of record-breaking heat in places including Scandinavia and France.
Meanwhile, the Arctic saw a "spectacular year", Vamborg said, pointing to a summer of record-breaking wildfires in Arctic Siberia, which were exacerbated by high temperatures and lower-than-average snow cover.
The average temperature in Arctic Siberia last year broke records by a large margin at 4.3 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2020 average.
Globally, Copernicus Earth said 2020 was one of the world's three hottest years on record, confirming findings released this week by the World Meteorological Organization.
What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?
Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.
To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.
This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.
Contact us to get involved.
The EU on Wednesday set a target to slash emissions faster this decade, and the United States is expected to do the same on Thursday, hiking the pressure on countries including China and India.
Currently, countries' combined pledges fall far short of the rapid emissions cuts scientists say are needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and stave off the most severe impacts of climate change. (Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Hugh Lawson)