Global temperature rise
According to the report, the past seven years were also the seven warmest ever recorded. The year 2021 was the fifth warmest year worldwide since records began. It was 0.3 degrees Celsius above the reference period from 1991 to 2020 and 1.1 - 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level from 1850 to 1900.
Above-average temperatures were measured in particular in regions from the west coast of the USA to the north-east of Canada and Greenland, in large parts of North and Central Africa as well as in a large part of the Middle East. In contrast, temperatures in the western and eastern parts of Siberia, Alaska, large parts of Australia and Antarctica were below average in 2021.
European extreme events
In 2021, Europe experienced the warmest summer ever recorded since weather records began. This was accompanied by extreme heat waves in the Mediterranean region, with Greece, Spain and Italy being particularly affected by high temperatures. A new heat record was set in Sicily with 48.8 degrees Celsius. The consequence of the hot and dry weather conditions was intense and long-lasting forest fires in the eastern and central Mediterranean, with Turkey, Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Albania, northern Macedonia, Algeria and Tunisia particularly affected.
Western Central Europe was also affected by extreme weather events: In July, heavy rainfall led to flooding in several countries. In addition to Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also severely affected.
CO2 and CH4 concentrations continue to rise in 2021
Global concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere continued to increase in 2021. Carbon dioxide levels reached a global average annual record of about 414 ppm. Forest and wildfires emitted a total of about 1850 megatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere worldwide, with fires in Siberia being particularly strong emitters.
In 2021, the concentration of methane also rose particularly sharply: At 1876 ppb, it reached an unprecedented global average. The cause of this cannot be definitively determined at present, as both natural sources and anthropogenic sources such as gas and oil production or agriculture could play an important role. But the fact is: methane concentrations in the air continue to rise from year to year and there are currently no signs that emissions are slowing down.
We must act
The problem: the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane are the main drivers of climate change. Already this year, extreme weather events in Europe and around the world have shown us: We need to act towards shaping a more sustainable society and thus reducing net carbon emissions. If we really want to keep to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and limit climate change and its consequences, we need everyone to rethink!