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Climate: Why are rising global temperatures still a concern?

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

The past seven years have been the warmest on record, with 2021 ranking as the fifth warmest year as the world continues to see an increase in climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released Monday.

The annual results from the Copernicus Climate Change Service, an intergovernmental agency that supports European climate policy, show a continued trend of rising temperatures as fossil fuel emissions capture more heat from the atmosphere.

"2021 was another year of extreme temperatures with the hottest summer in Europe, heat waves in the Mediterranean, not to mention unprecedented high temperatures in North America," said Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus service.

Human-induced climate change has fueled warmer temperatures and drier conditions around the world, and is widely seen by scientists as contributing to worsening disasters such as hurricanes, forest fires and heat waves.

Last year also ended with the United Nations World Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which resulted in an agreement among nearly 200 countries to accelerate the fight against climate change and commit to stronger climate commitments.

Despite new commitments on methane pollution, deforestation and coal financing, among other things, scientists and legal experts argued that the summit resulted in insufficient progress to address the severity of the crisis.

Some regions of the world have warmed more than others in the past year. For example, Europe experienced an extreme summer with scorching heat waves in the Mediterranean and flooding in central Europe.

The 10 hottest years for Europe have all occurred since 2000, and the seven hottest years have all occurred between 2014 and 2020.

In North America, a severe heat wave in June broke maximum temperature records and resulted in the hottest June on record for the continent, the agency said.

Extremely dry conditions also exacerbated wildfires in July and August, particularly in several Canadian provinces and the western United States.

Last year was 0.3 degrees Celsius above the average for the period between 1991 and 2020 and between 1.1 and 1.2 degrees Celsius above the average for the pre-industrial period between 1850 and 1900, the agency said.

To keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius - the level set by the 2015 Paris Agreement that scientists say will avoid the worst effects of climate change - the world would need to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half over the next decade and reach net zero emissions by 2050, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The world is on track for a 2.4-degree Celsius temperature increase by the end of the century, according to a scientific data tracker. Translated with (free version)

Source : CNBC

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