The record-breaking heat wave experienced across Europe this summer will be considered “average” by 2035, even if countries meet the climate commitments agreed under the 2015 Paris Agreement, a new study warns.
Research by the Met Office Hadley Centre, commissioned by the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG), found that, according to current predictions, an average summer in central Europe will be over 4C warmer by 2100 than it was in the pre-industrial era.
The research comes after parts of Europe were gripped by blistering heat waves in recent months, with temperatures well into the 30s for several days.
Almost all of France was subject to water use restrictions due to drought, along with large parts of England and Wales. Earlier this month, the country experienced its third heat wave this summer, with thousands of people evacuated from their homes due to forest fires.
Spain is also in the grip of a “crippling” drought with crops such as avocados and olives affected. Along with Portugal, the countries are facing their driest conditions in 1,200 years, and more than 1,000 people are said to have died in relation to the extreme heat this summer.
In the UK, temperatures exceeded 40°C for the first time in July. Since then, drought has been declared in several regions and hose bans have been implemented to shore up dwindling water supplies.
For their study, researchers examined temperature data for the past 170 years. The analysis looked at how rapidly rising temperatures are changing across Europe and tracked observed average summer temperatures since 1850 and compared them with future predictions.
They say the findings serve as an urgent reminder of the need for countries to go far beyond their nationally determined contributions pledged under the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to below 1.5C.
Sir David King, Chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, said: “Science is clear that the extreme weather events now being faced around the world are, at least in large part, a consequence of human-induced climate change.
“The data released by the Met Office today shows that even if countries are meeting their commitments to reduce emissions they have made so far, the situation is still set to get worse, with weather in Europe predicted to be even more extreme than this summer. . “
He added: “These data do not fully account for the instability in the Arctic, which we now know is a global tipping point, which could have large-scale consequences for the entire planet.
“One thing is absolutely clear, and that is that countries around the world must not only meet their NDCs, but voluntarily look to increase them. The time for ambitious, urgent action is now. It is only through the mitigation measures Reduce, remove and repairs, pursued with equal vigor and urgency, that we may hope to move away from the path of disaster we are now set on and achieve a manageable future for humanity.”
Professor Peter Stott, of the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: “In the wake of the 2003 European heatwave, which is estimated to have killed over 70,000 people, I predicted that such temperatures, so exceptional at the time, would become the norm under continued emissions .
“This prediction has now come true. The risk of extreme weather events, including fires, droughts and floods, will continue to increase rapidly unless greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced.”