LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe continued to record record temperatures through the end of the year and into the new year. Environmental activists have called for more urgent action to tackle climate change, a relief for governments grappling with soaring natural gas prices.
From Switzerland to Poland to Hungary, temperatures have hit record highs in recent days, with Hungary’s capital Budapest hitting an all-time high of 18.9 degrees Celsius on New Year’s Day. In France, the temperature on December 30-31 last year was the highest since the beginning of statistics, and the temperature in the southwest reached nearly 25 degrees Celsius on New Year’s Day. This area is usually filled with ski resorts, but due to lack of snow, the area is becoming deserted.
The German Meteorological Agency said it hasn’t had a hotter New Year’s Eve since 1881, when records began being kept.
Czech television reported that some trees in private gardens are already starting to blossom. The Swiss Meteorological Agency has issued a pollen alert for people with allergies after the hazelnut flowers bloom.
The temperature at Bilbao Airport in Spain’s Basque Country is 25.1 degrees Celsius. Around the nearby museum, people have been seen sunbathing and strolling along the Nervion River.
Eusebio Forgueira, 81, who lives in Bilbao, is surprised: “It always rains a lot and it’s very cold here. It’s January. (But now) it feels like summer.”
French traveler Joana Ost said: “It’s great weather for a bike ride, but we know the earth is on fire, so enjoy yourself while you’re at it.” I feel scared,” she said.
Scientists have yet to finish analyzing how climate change is specifically affecting the recent warm winter. But the fact that January was so warm fits perfectly with the long-term warming trend of human-induced climate change.
“European winters are getting warmer every year due to rising global temperatures,” said Freja Bamburgh, climate scientist at the European Union’s meteorological information agency Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
Dr Friederike Ott, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, also said: ‘The record temperatures across Europe in the New Year are more likely to have been caused by human-induced climate change.’
Robert Botard, director of the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute in France, said that although the temperature increase peaked between December 30 and January 2, the hot weather itself has been going on for two weeks and is not over yet. . He said it was a relatively long lasting meteorological phenomenon.
France’s meteorological agency attributed the unusually high temperatures to a wave of warm air flowing into Europe from subtropical regions.
Ski resorts across the country have been directly affected, with almost no customers due to canceled bookings. Ski resorts in northern Spain, such as Asturias, León and Cantabria, are closed from the holiday season due to lack of snow.
The Jahorina Mountains near Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics, should have been the busiest season for skiers, but there was no snow on the ground and no one was on the lifts. Only one couple was having dinner in a restaurant of the pension.
A ski jumping event scheduled for January 7-8 in Zakopane, southern Poland, has been cancelled.
“What we are seeing is exactly what climate scientists warned about 10, 20 years ago and it can no longer be prevented,” said Carsten Smid, climate expert at environmental group Greenpeace Germany, calling for urgent action to halt further dramatic warming.
On the other hand, from the point of view of European countries, which have struggled to find alternative sources of energy and keep energy prices in check after Russia cut its energy supply, this unusually warm winter served as a “savior god” to overcome the immediate crisis.
The energy crisis has led European nations to call for a faster shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, but the short-term challenge is finding enough natural gas from Russia to offset the collapse in supply.
But recently, rising temperatures have reduced the demand for heating gas in many countries, leading to lower prices for natural gas. The Dutch TTF contract for natural gas trading fell to 70.25 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh) on Monday morning, the lowest since shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
The head of Italy’s energy agency said he expects energy regulation rates to drop this month if a warm winter continues to push gas prices lower.
(Reporters Matthias Williams and Kate Abnett)