These same countries have produced only a small share of cumulative greenhouse gases since industrialization began: Those gases tend to come from electricity use, driving and other forms of economic output. Africa, for instance, has produced about 4 percent of historical emissions. (You can look up the numbers for the U.S., China and other countries in these charts by my colleagues Nadja Popovich and Brad Plumer.)
Now Europe is becoming another example of climate change’s unfair burden, at least relative to other rich countries that are responsible for large shares of historical emissions. True, not all of Europe’s clean-energy policies have succeeded. But the shortcomings can sometimes obscure the reality that it has made more progress in reducing emissions than anywhere else. One reason: Conservative parties there tend to agree that climate change demands a response, in contrast to the Republican Party’s stance in the U.S.
Despite these reductions, Europe is turning into one of the world’s new climate hot spots.
Why? Slowing winds and weakening ocean currents in the region may both play a role. (If you want the details, Henry Fountain explains them.) Henry says that experts are still debating the causes. But scientists agree that Europe’s current heat wave would not be happening without human-caused climate change. “Global warming plays a role in every heat wave at this point,” he said.
Russia and the future
Going forward, it remains unclear how much hotter Europe will become, partly because it depends on what actions the world takes to combat climate change. The U.S. seems to be pulling back from aggressive action, because of rulings by the Supreme Court as well as opposition to President Biden’s climate bill from Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat.