Last year was the hottest in Poland since records began in 1781, according to data from the country’s national weather service.

Figures from the Polish Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (IMGW) indicate that the mean annual temperature for Poland was 10.3°C. This figure beats the record set the previous year by 0.4°C, reports Nauka o Klimacie, a climate information service.

The figures for Poland mirror a global trend, with 2019 the world’s second hottest year on record, despite the lack of the El Niño weather phenomenon to which the earlier records were partly attributed.

Weather extremes in Poland in 2019 were embodied by the fluctuations of the Vistula. The river flooded in May, with its level in Warsaw reaching 579 cm. Then it reached the opposite extreme a few weeks later in July, when very high temperatures and low rainfall saw its level fall to a record low of 34cm.

This winter has so far been very mild in Poland. The IMGW reported that December was the third warmest on record, while the trend has continued in January. In Kraków, the average daily high so far this month is currently 4.4°C, significantly higher than the January norm of 2.2°C.

In November, a new study showed increased risk of coastal flooding in Poland as a result of climate change. In the same month, the government created a new climate ministry under the leadership of Michał Kurtyka, who accepts that “huge civilisational changes” are needed to deal with climate change.

However, following the European Council summit in December, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that Poland was the only member state not to have signed up to the EU’s goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050, arguing that “our country will reach carbon neutrality at its own pace”.

What does Poland’s exemption from the EU’s climate ambitions actually mean?

Climate change was a much discussed issue in Poland in 2019, results in “climate” being named one of the words of the year. In December, a Polish archbishop aroused controversy for saying that “ecologism is very dangerous and contrary to the bible”.

But one priest has taken matters into their own hands, installing a cross made out of solar panels on his church. “We must not shy away from climate change,” he warned. “We should ask ourselves what we will leave for future generations.”

Main image credit: Olgierd Ruda/Flickr (under CC BY 2.0)

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