Temperature display in front of a pharmacy in Catania on August 11, 2021
Photo: Salvatore Cavalli / AP
According to the EU, the years 2015 to 2021 were the seven warmest on earth since records began. The year 2021 was in fifth place, 2016 and 2020 are still at the top, according to the data presented on Monday by the EU climate change service Copernicus for the climate year. In Europe, however, the warmest summer since records began was measured - just before the summers of 2010 and 2018. The presumed record temperature of 48.8 degrees Celsius measured in Sicily stood out in particular. It was 0.8 degrees above the previous European record.
In addition, 2021 was marked by extreme weather events - such as the floods that hit Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands hard in the summer.
Forest fires raged again on the west coast of the USA and Canada, not only devastating areas of land, but also massively deteriorating air quality.
"2021 was another year of extreme temperatures, with the hottest summer in Europe, heat waves in the Mediterranean, not to mention the unprecedented high temperatures in North America," said Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo.
The new findings are a "brutal reminder" of the need to "change our way of life, take decisive and effective steps towards a sustainable society and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
According to the Copernicus data, the annual average temperature last year was 1.1 to 1.2 degrees higher than in the pre-industrial period.
In the Glasgow Climate Pact, the United Nations reaffirmed in November that it wanted to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times.
So far, however, the states' plans are nowhere near enough.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in a report last year that the 1.5-degree threshold would likely be reached as early as 2030 - ten years earlier than forecast in 2018.
Whether further warming can be prevented afterwards is also controversial in science.
Methane concentration increases particularly strongly
The nature conservation organization BUND therefore called on the traffic light coalition to send "a decisive signal to the EU" in the first 100 days of their government in order to strengthen climate protection on an international level.
"The immediate climate protection program announced by Federal Minister (Robert) Habeck must also take this dramatic situation into account," said BUND boss Olaf Bandt of the German press agency.
Wind on Land Law
must decisively promote the decentralized and nature-friendly expansion of renewable energies."
The Copernicus records go back to 1979.
The Climate Change Service (C3S) also uses recordings from ground stations, balloons, airplanes and satellites dating back to 1950.
As a result, the climate experts also found that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased again last year.
The increase was particularly large for methane.
Although this gas stays in the atmosphere for a shorter time, it is even more harmful than CO₂.
It arises, for example, in agriculture, on landfills or in the oil and gas industry.
"This is worrying," said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service.
More research is needed to explain the sharp rise and answer what is particularly responsible for it.
ak / dpa / AFP