How much Germany sweated this summer – and the people in Great Britain, Spain, Portugal and many other countries too. In terms of average temperature, the summer of 2022 in Europe was the hottest since measurements began more than 140 years ago, as reported by the European Copernicus Climate Change Service.

Science has recently shown that climate change is responsible for the accumulation of extremes. It is also clear that governments are far from doing enough for a radical and sustainable energy transition. Climate change 2022 in six keywords:

climate hell

UN Secretary-General António Guterres described it so drastically in November at the world climate conference in Egypt: “We’re on the highway to climate hell – with our foot on the accelerator.” According to climate protection activists such as Greenpeace, the conference management bowed to the oil lobby and only produced a dry final document with vague promises for a new fund for developing countries, while the urgently needed end to oil and gas production was not even mentioned.

climate glue

Since the summer, climate activists from the “Last Generation” network have been making headlines with drastic actions: They pour tomato sauce on works of art in museums and glue themselves to the frames. They also stick to streets and airport grounds, and in Berlin they once paralyzed operations for hours.

Some consider the alarm to be justified, but there is also a lot of criticism of the actions. “Violence as a means of political disputes has no place in a democracy,” said Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP).

Climate and weather extremes: abounded

In Germany and other European countries, record low levels in rivers and record droughts were measured, among other things, heat records were set in Portugal and Great Britain. In South Asia there was extreme heat with almost 50 degrees in India in the spring, followed by devastating floods from August, especially in Pakistan.

China experienced the longest and worst heat since records began around 60 years ago, and the catastrophic drought continued in the Sahel region of Africa. Extreme droughts also hit North America, as did record lows in rivers and lakes. In the southern hemisphere, several cyclones devastated Madagascar.

Climate target 1.5 degrees

Will the world achieve the 2015 Paris climate target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) by 2100? Not according to current trends. According to estimates, the current climate protection plans would lead to a plus of 2.5 degrees by the end of the century.

“Ambitions to reduce emissions by 2030 would need to be seven times greater to reach the 1.5 degree target,” according to the World Weather Organization (WMO). The global average temperature is already a good 1.1 degrees higher than before industrialization. According to the WMO, the chance that the record of the hottest year – 2016 with plus 1.3 degrees – will be set by 2026 is 93 percent.

The Climate Indicator

The hope that the 5.4 percent drop in CO2 emissions as a result of the corona pandemic and the economic downturn was a trend reversal has been dashed. According to preliminary data, emissions in the first few months of 2022 are again higher than in the same period before the pandemic.

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is reaching records, as is the heat content (OHC) of the oceans, according to climate expert Kevin Trenberth from the University of Auckland. “Exceptionally warm deep waters in the tropical western Pacific portend the next El Niño event in 2023, potentially leading to further global temperature records in 2024 when some ocean heat returns to the atmosphere,” he warns.

climate science

The relatively young field of attribution research has developed rapidly in 2022. Using model calculations, the researchers are investigating the extent to which climate change is responsible for an extreme weather event. They compare whether such events would have happened without global warming. Some findings from Imperial College London: Climate change has made extreme drought 20 times more likely in Germany and elsewhere this year.

Extreme rains in Pakistan’s Sindh and Balochistan provinces were 75 percent more intense than they would have been without global warming. Climate change has made the heavy rains in West Africa that caused devastating floods from June to October 80 times more likely.