2020 warmest year on record for Europe

The ‘Green Scene’ Series on Newstalk is a weekly update on energy and environmental matters with Pat Kenny and MaREI Director Brian Ó Gallachóir.

On January 13th, 2021 Prof Ó Gallachóir discussed how 2020 was the warmest year on record for Europe.


2020 warmest year on record for Europe

  1. Globally, 2020 was tied with the previous warmest year on record, which was 2016
  2. The last six years are the warmest six on record and 2011-2020 was the warmest decade recorded.
  3. 2020 was 0.6°C warmer than the standard 1981-2010 reference period and around 1.25°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial periodGreenSceneGraph - Warmest Year
  4. Our (Paris Agreement) target for climate change is hold global warming below 2 and pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial period – we have very little headroom
  5. Europe saw its warmest year on record, 0.4°C warmer than 2019, which was previously the warmest year and 1.6°C above the 1981-2010reference period
  6. The largest annual temperature deviation from the 1981-2010 average was concentrated over the Arctic and northern Siberia, reaching to over 6°Cabove average
  7. Based on data from ECMWF (European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting Copernicus Climate Change Service, C3S)
  8. Climate science tells us that the level of global warming is directly related to the cumulative amount of carbon dioxide emissions
  9. To stay within the 1.5°C limit means staying within a remaining carbon budget(total remaining cumulative emissions) of less than 350 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions
  10. We currently emit over 30 billion tonnes of CO2 per year  – so, we have very little headroom

Winter 2021 UN COP 26 Meeting Glasgow

  1. The above stark data puts significant pressure on global politics to act urgently.
  2. United Nations has a meeting each year of countries who have signed the UN Climate Change Convention
  3. These meetings, of Conferences of the Parties (COP) have at times brought significant advances in political ambition on climate action.
  4. Two notable ones were in 1997 (COP 3) in Kyoto and 2015 (COP 21) in Paris that led to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement respectively
  5. The planned meeting in 2020 (COP 26) was deferred by a year due to the COVID pandemic and will take place in Glasgow in November 1-12 2021
  6. The purpose of the meeting will be to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement
  7. With recent renewed political ambition from China and USA, there are some grounds for hope
  8. We need radical change across society – individual lifestyle changes, consumerism, institutional change, political change, how we do business, energy systems and agricultural systems
  9. However, we will learn over this coming year whether we will emerge globally from the pandemic and a) build back better or b) return to pollution as usual.

The REthink Energy series featuring Green Scene is supported by ESB and The Institute of International and European Affairs


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