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The relentless procession of global warming continued into 2021, with the past seven years now being the hottest years on record.

Data out on monday by the European climate observation service Copernicus showed that last year was the fifth warmest since the start of measurements, despite the influence of the global cooling of a La Niña in the Pacific Ocean.

“It becomes difficult to say something new every time we see signs of another nail in the planetary coffin,” said Brian Hoskins, president of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

In Europe, last summer was the hottest on record. These months have coincided with deadly fires and heat waves in the south and flooding in the north. But 2021 as a whole was only slightly warmer than normal, following a frosty start to the year in Western Europe.

In North America, extreme summer temperatures have broken local records and caused devastating forest fires.

While global warming may appear “gradual,” said Rowan Sutton, a climatologist at the UK National Center for Atmospheric Science, events seen across the world in 2021 are expected to be “a punch in the face to wake up politicians and the public to the emergency of the climate emergency. “

There is no sign of loosening. Although the year was also marked by significant new political pressures to tackle the pollution that causes climate change, concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane continued to rise, Copernicus said.

Coal consumption jumped 9% in 2021 as the global economy woke up from the pandemic and China and India in particular turned to coal.

On top of that, scientists were unable to explain a mysterious spike in the amount of methane in the atmosphere in 2020 and 2021. Copernicus found that the rate of increase of the potent greenhouse gas was more than double of the average of the last 17 years.

Methane can come from a variety of sources, both natural and industrial, much of the latter from oil and gas production, mining and agriculture. But global monitoring of these sources is poor.

In December, the EU proposed a strategy to target methane emissions that relied heavily on the need to measure and verify gas sources.

“Only with determined efforts backed by observational evidence can we make a real difference in our fight against climate catastrophe,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.


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