France had the hottest year on record in 2020, Météo-#France announced on Tuesday. “What we are experiencing today is what we climate scientists envisioned”, explains Jean Jouzel, climatologist, glaciologist, member of the Academy of Sciences and vice-president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, guest of franceinfo Wednesday, December 30. With an average value over the whole country reaching 14 ° C, the temperature for the year 2020 ranks first among the highest values measured since 1900 by the forecaster.
franceinfo: Is this year 2020 a preview of what awaits us in the future?
Jean Jouzel: Of course, that’s what awaits us in the future. Take for example my generation, these temperatures that we experienced on average in 2020, are almost two degrees warmer than the one I experienced when I was about fifteen, in the early 1960s, at the end of the 50s. So, it’s really something noticeable. What we are experiencing today is what we climate scientists envisioned. So indeed, if nothing is done to combat global warming, it will continue in a big and disastrous way in many areas. The problem when we talk about the average temperature in 2020 is that the temperature peaks, the temperature records, increase two to three times faster than the average temperatures. And this is the reason why, almost every year, temperature records are broken. I never dared mention in my first conferences temperatures above 45 degrees in France. And that was the case, the record in France is now 46 degrees.
Do you feel like you haven’t been listened to?
It would indeed have been much more relevant if we had been listened to some thirty years ago. This was almost the case with the climate convention in 1992 and the Kyoto protocol. But what we can see is that everyone agreed to take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And in fact, they have continued to increase. Over the past fifty years, they have doubled. These greenhouse gas emissions are at the origin of this global warming. And for 80%, it’s our use of fossil fuels. The projections made by climate modellers must absolutely be taken seriously. But also all the recommendations made on the part of the citizens. I am very attached to these 150 citizens of the High Council for the Climate who tell us that the recovery plan is still not likely to put us on a trajectory such as we should consider it.
Are there any concrete signs of this increase in temperatures?
Of course, nature changes around us. The dates of the harvest continue to change, they have been brought forward by almost a month since the 1950s. You just have to look at nature around us, the buds in spring arrive more quickly, the flowering too. There are problems with heat waves in the summer. If you also look at the weather maps, the decrease in sea ice during the fall is remarkably well documented. There is half the amount of sea ice in the Arctic than there was about 50 years ago. You only need to look around, even if you don’t want to believe the reality of a thermometer, to see reality. Global warming is also the continuing rise in sea level, at an accelerating rate. This acceleration was planned. So the message is clear, we absolutely have to take projections seriously.