According to data from the European Copernicus service (Copernicus Climate Change Service – C3S), 2019 was the second warmest year ever on record and the first when considering only European data. It fell short of 2016 – which remains the warmest year ever, partly due to the intense contribution of El Niño – by only 0.04°C. The earth’s temperature over the last five years has been 1.1 °C higher than in pre-industrial times and, as C3S reveals, the decade 2010-2019 has been the warmest since measurements started to be taken on a regular basis. The world is therefore approaching the 2°C threshold required by the Paris Agreement, which should be the upper limit not to be exceeded by the end of the century.
The most pronounced warming was recorded in Alaska and other parts of the Arctic, large areas of eastern and southern Europe, southern Africa and Australia, which was ravaged by fires and three degrees warmer than historical averages in December. In contrast, central and south-eastern Canada recorded below-average annual temperatures. Alongside temperatures, atmospheric carbon concentrations continue to rise, the highest for at least 800,000 years. As regrettably highlighted at COP25 in Madrid, current commitments to reduce emissions are proving to be totally insufficient.