A new report by the European Union’s Copernicus earth observation service shows that 2020 tied with 2016 as the hottest year ever recorded, rounding off the world’s hottest ever decade.
The report shows that in 2020, “temperatures globally were an average of 1.25 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than in pre-industrial times,” reports Radio New Zealand. At this rate, the globe is fast approaching the two degrees Celsius of warming that the Paris agreement aims to avoid.
Copernicus’s report shows the effects of this heatwave in 2020 were far-reaching and profound. In the U.S., 22 separate climate-related disasters caused over a billion dollars worth of damage each. This is according to data collected by a U.S. government report on disasters ranging from wildfires and snowstorms to floods and hurricanes. It is evident to see that the effects of climate change are fast becoming the new norm. The agency that released this report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also claimed the U.S. recorded the highest temperature ever. This was in Death Valley and registered at a sweltering 54.4C.
Additionally, the report shows that in Europe climate change is making waves too. Overall Europe experienced its hottest year ever in 2020, with the effects particularly visible in the northern latitudes. Siberia and the Arctic circle experienced unprecedented wildfires and heat waves according to Copernicus.
The report shows that in parts of Siberia and the Arctic circle temperatures averaged more than six C degrees above the 30-year average. The report highlights that temperatures in this region are rising faster than the rest of the planet, despite overall global warming.
Copernicus showed that the warming of this region has drastic consequences for the rest of the planet with wildfires in the “Arctic Circle releasing a record 244 million tonnes of CO2 in 2020, over a third more than in 2019.” Additionally, August and July set the records for the lowest levels of Arctic sea ice ever recorded.
Radio New Zealand reports that the latest data has renewed calls for drastic action to limit emissions and work on meeting the targets set in the Paris agreement. Global leaders are set to meet in Glasgow in November for the follow-up climate summit.
Reuter’s quotes “Britain’s Met Office forecast that CO2 concentrations in spring 2021 would hit levels 50 per cent higher than before the industrial revolution, breaching a symbolic threshold for human impact on the climate.”
As regional climate disasters become more common, it is clear that governments around the world are behind the ball on dealing with the fallout. As the world holds its breath for a more optimistic decade than the one before, tangible action by all is the only solution.