CO2 concentrations grew at record rate in 2016 — United Nations agency

CO2 concentrations grew at record rate in 2016 — United Nations agency

CO2 concentrations grew at record rate in 2016 — United Nations agency

CARBON dioxide (CO2) levels surged to their highest level in at least 800,000 years because of pollution caused by humans and a strong El Niño event, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has hit a new high, the United Nations said Monday, warning that drastic action is needed to achieve targets set by the Paris climate agreement.

Emissions from human sources have slowed down in the last couple of years according to research, but according to Dr Tarasova, it is the cumulative total in the atmosphere that really matters as Carbon dioxide stays aloft and active for centuries.

The WMO suggests rapily increasingly atmospheric levels of Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have the potential to initiate "unprecedented changes in climate systems, leading to "severe ecological and economic disruptions".

The latest WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin released Monday says a strong El Nino and human activity contributed to an increase of Carbon dioxide concentrations to 403.3 parts per million a year ago, up from 400 in 2015.

The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin examines emissions of greenhouse gases and the concentrations that remain after the complex process of interactions between the biosphere (the sum of all ecosystems on Earth), the oceans, the cryosphere (the portions of the Earth where water is in solid form) and the atmosphere.

"Geological-wise, it is like an injection of a huge amount of heat", said Dr Tarasova.

The increase will potentially fuel a 20-metre rise in the sea levels and add 3 degrees to the temperatures, the U.N. WMO said in its annual greenhouse gas bulletin. The entire Greenland Ice Sheet melted during that time, as did the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and parts of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

"We are actually moving in the wrong direction when we think about the implementation of the Paris Agreement and this all demonstrates that there is some urgent need to raise the ambition level of climate mitigation, if we are serious with this 1.5 to 2C target of Paris Agreement", he said. This was not expected in the Paris agreement. We do not understand why methane is rising. "It is very worrying".

The implications of these new atmospheric measurements for the targets agreed under the Paris climate pact, are quite negative, according to environmental observers.

"The numbers don't lie".

A separate Emissions Gap Report by UN Environment will be released October 31. We have numerous solutions already to address this challenge.

"It is the largest increase we have ever seen in the 30 years we have had this network", Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO's global atmosphere watch programme, told the BBC.

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