17th Mar 2018

2016 was warmest year on record, EU program warns

  • 2016 was warmer than 2015 by close to 0.2 degrees Celsius, EU data shows (Photo: German presidency 2007)

Last year was the warmest on record and almost 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than temperatures in the 1750s, according to an EU earth observation project.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service also said 2016 was 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2015, the previous record-breaking year.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Figures published by the service’s London branch on Thursday (5 January) showed that global temperatures in 2016 exceeded 14.8 degrees Celsius, being 1.3 degrees higher than when records began in the mid-18th century.

Copernicus, which gathers data on climate, migration, and agriculture in order to flag up trends and to warn of emergencies, is a joint project of the EU and the European Space Agency.

The up-to-date information is free and open to private citizens and public authorities.

In 2015, 174 countries agreed in Paris to limit global warming to less than 2  degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to limit the temperature increase to 1.5  degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

However, data from Copernicus shows that global temperatures in February 2016 already touched the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit.

Global temperatures also remained well above average in the second half of 2016, in a development linked to low sea-ice cover in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, the service said.

The largest differences in regional average temperatures were found in the Arctic.

Copernicus warned that future temperature increases could cause billions of euros of damage and affect the availability of fresh water and crop yields.

"Land and sea temperatures are rising along with sea-levels, while the world’s sea-ice extent, glacier volume and snow cover are decreasing; rainfall patterns are changing and climate-related extremes such as heatwaves, floods and droughts are increasing in frequency and intensity for many regions," Juan Garces de Marcilla, the director of the Copernicus service, said in a statement.

Copernicus observed other extremes last year, for instance, mass-scale wildfires in Canada and Siberia due to high surface temperatures.

It also recorded an increase in CO2, the gas that contributes to global warming, in the atmosphere.

It said that vegetation growth in the summer months of 2016 was inadequate to take up the extra CO2 levels, as had usually been the case.

Copernicus' data is based on millions of daily measurements.

Its latest findings are another wake-up call for governments to tackle climate change.

The election of Donald Trump in the US has put a question mark over the future of the Paris climate accord, however.

Trump, who takes office on 20 January, has said that the US, one of the world’s worst polluters, might withdraw from the pact.

He has also cast doubt on the human cause of climate change despite the scientific consensus on the subject.

He said that it could be a Chinese hoax designed to make US manufacturing less competitive and voiced support for the coal and oil industries.

EU to ratify Paris climate deal

EU states have agreed to fast-track ratification of the Paris climate change agreement, leaving thorny details for later.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere