The Fastest-Warming Continent, Europe Has Already Heated by More Than 2 Degrees C

The 2022 temperature anomaly across Europe as compared to the average from 1991 to 2020.

The 2022 temperature anomaly across Europe as compared to the average from 1991 to 2020. C3S / ECMWF / WMO

Europe is warming faster than any other inhabited continent, with rising temperatures fueling increasingly severe heat waves, floods, and wildfires, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization and the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

The Paris Agreement set a goal of halting warming at 2 degrees C, such that the average temperature across the globe over several years does not exceed this target. So far, the planet has warmed by 1.2 degrees C overall, but some regions have already surpassed the 2-degree mark, including Europe, which last year measured 2.3 degrees C warmer than in the preindustrial era, according to the report.

“In 2022, many countries in western and southwestern Europe had their warmest year on record,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement. “Summer was the hottest ever recorded.”

Europe saw a staggering 16,000 heat-related deaths in 2022, while weather-related economic damages totaled $2 billion. Storms and floods accounted for most of the losses, the report said.

As Europe faces more perilous weather, it is also making major gains on clean energy. Last year, wind and solar generated 22 percent of Europe’s power, more than either natural gas (20 percent) or coal (16 percent).

“For the first time, more electricity was generated by wind and solar than by fossil gas in the EU,” Taalas said. “Increasing use of renewables and low-carbon energy sources is crucial to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.”


Averting Crisis, Europe Learns to Live Without Russian Energy