Europe 2.6°C above pre-industrial temperature in 2023

  • Market: Electricity, Emissions
  • 22/04/24

Temperatures in Europe stood at 2.6°C above pre-industrial levels in 2023, data from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) show.

Europe last year experienced either its joint-warmest or second-warmest year on record, the WMO and EU earth-monitoring service Copernicus found today, in a joint report, European State of the Climate 2023. The organisations use datasets covering different geographical domains for Europe. WMO includes Greenland, the South Caucasus and part of the Middle East in its dataset. Copernicus put the temperature in Europe last year at between 2.48–2.58°C above pre-industrial levels.

The Paris climate agreement seeks to limit global warming to "well below" 2°C and preferably to 1.5°C. Europe is warming roughly twice as fast as the rest of the world. The global average temperature in 2023 was 1.45°C above the pre-industrial average, the WMO said earlier this year. It confirmed 2023 as the hottest on record. Climate scientists use the period 1850-1900 as the baseline for a pre-industrial average.

Temperatures in Europe in 2023 were above average for 11 months of the year, and there was a record number of days with "extreme heat stress", the report found. The three warmest years on record for Europe have occurred since 2020, and the 10 warmest since 2007, it said.

Electricity generation from renewables in Europe last year reached the highest proportion on record, at 43pc up from 36pc in 2022, the WMO and Copernicus said. Increased storm activity between October-December and above-average precipitation and river flow resulted in higher potential for wind power and run-of-river hydropower generation, respectively.

Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and methane — the greenhouse gases (GHGs) causing the most warming — continued to increase in 2023, "reaching record levels", the report found. It put CO2 concentrations at 419 parts per million (ppm) and methane at 1,902 parts per billion (ppb) on average last year.

"Only around half of anthropogenic emissions of CO2 have been absorbed by land vegetation and oceans", the organisations said.

GHGs from human activity are driving climate change, but the El Nino weather phenomenon also typically leads to higher temperatures. The El Nino weather pattern, which started in July 2023, peaked in December, the WMO said previously, but could still affect temperatures this year. There is a 60pc chance of La Nina conditions — which typically lead to lower temperatures — developing in June-August, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said earlier this month.


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