2022 was Europe's second-warmest year, scientists say

STORY: Intense wildfires, dried up rivers, slashed crop yields ...

Europe experienced its second-warmest year on record in 2022, as climate change unleashed record-breaking weather extremes that led to thousands of deaths.

That's according to European Union scientists at Copernicus Climate Change Service, C3S, whose records date back to 1950.

"It was especially summer that was the warmest on record by quite a large margin."

Senior climate scientist Freja Vamborg says summer 2022 was Europe's hottest on record.

"There were a number of heat waves, where for instance the temperature of 40 degrees was reached for the first time ever in the United Kingdom, so that's a country-level record."

"We also saw a large region of southern and central Europe which was affected by drought throughout, or especially at the end, of summer."

Initial analysis ranked 2022's widespread drought as Europe's worst in 500 years.

The hot, dry spell fuelled intense wildfires in countries from Spain to Slovenia.

And severe heatwaves caused more than 20,000 so-called "excess" deaths in countries including France, Germany, Spain and Britain.

But it's not just Europe.

C3S says 2022 was also the entire world's fifth-warmest year – since at least 1850.

"So, our Copernicus data shows that globally it was the fifth-warmest year on record, but what's really to note here I think is that the last eight years were all the warmest on record and they were all also more than one degree above what we call the 'pre-industrial level' for temperatures."

The planet is now 1.2C warmer than in pre-industrial times, as a result of human-caused climate change, C3S says.

Global temperatures will only stop rising if countries reduce their emissions to "net zero."

The 27-country EU, Britain, Canada, Japan and others have pledged to reach that goal by 2050.

China and India aim to achieve it later.

But despite those long-term pledges, global emissions continue to rise.

"We will carry on having warmer and warmer global temperatures and we will slowly but surely walk towards these targets. In order to be able to achieve the goals, so to limit the temperature to any of these targets, we need to make sure that greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere stagnates, and this can only be achieved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities."