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2020 tied with 2016, hottest year on record, EU says | Climate change news

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Scientists say the latest data underscores the need for countries and businesses to quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record in the world, ending the hottest decade in the world as the impacts of climate change intensified, the Copernicus Climate Change service of the United Nations said on Friday. ‘European Union.

After an unusually warm winter and autumn in Europe, the continent experienced the hottest year on record in 2020, while the Arctic suffered extreme heat and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide that warm the planet have continued to increase.

Scientists said the latest data underscored the need for countries and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement targets to avoid catastrophic climate change.

“The extraordinary climate events of 2020 and data from the Copernicus climate change service show us that we have no time to waste,” said Matthias Petschke, Director of Space at the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU. The block’s space programs include the Copernicus Earth observation satellites.

In 2020, global temperatures were on average 1.25 degrees Celsius (2.25 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than in pre-industrial times, Copernicus said. The past six years have been the warmest on record in the world.

The Paris agreement aims to cap rising temperatures to “well below” 2 ° C (3.6 ° F) and as close as possible to 1.5 ° C (2.7 ° F) to avoid most devastating effects of climate change.

“The key here is to… reduce the amount we emit,” Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at Copernicus, told Reuters news agency.

Last year also saw the highest temperature on record reliably, when a heatwave in California in August pushed the temperature in Death Valley, in the Mojave Desert, to 54.4 ° C (54.4 ° C) ( 129.92 ° F).

The Arctic and northern Siberia continued to warm faster than the planet as a whole in 2020, with temperatures in parts of these regions averaging 6 ° C (10.8 ° F) above of a 30-year average used as a baseline, Copernicus said.

The region has also experienced an ‘unusually active’ wildfire season, with fires at the Arctic Circle pole releasing a record 244 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2020, more than a third more than in 2019.

Arctic sea ice continued to deplete, with July and October both setting records for the lowest extent of sea ice in that month.

Scientists who were not involved in the study said this was consistent with growing evidence that climate change is contributing to more intense hurricanes, fires, floods and other disasters.

In the United States, the cost in human lives and damage is rising rapidly, said Adam Smith, a climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“We need another dictionary to help us describe how these extremes continue to play out and play out year after year,” said Smith, who tracks climate-related disasters that cause damage estimated at over a billion dollars.

Smith said the $ 16 billion disasters in the United States in the first nine months of 2020 matched previous annual records set in 2011 and 2017.

A preliminary tally found that 13 of last year’s disasters resulted in at least 188 deaths and costs of $ 46.6 billion, Smith said. NOAA was due to release a full 2020 damage investigation on Friday at 4:00 p.m. GMT (11:00 a.m. EST).


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