UN Report Finds Climate-Warming Greenhouse Gases Reached A Record High Level

The climate-heating greenhouse gases’ concentration has hit a record new high, according to a report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The action taken on the climate emergency to date has no effect in the atmosphere as the key gases measured in 2018 were jumped up above the average for the last decade. According to the WMO, the gap between targets and reality were both “glaring and growing.”

The “brutal news” for 2018 was that the continued surge in global emissions caused in an inevitable rise in the concentration of greenhouses gases. As per the calculation of the world’s scientists, the emissions must fall by half by 2030 to take a good chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C, while beyond that, there will be more heatwaves, droughts, floods, and poverty which hundreds of millions of people will suffer.

But Petteri Taalas, the WMO secretary-general, said: “There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, despite all the commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change. We need to increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind.

“It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was 3-5m years ago. Back then, the temperature was 2-3C warmer and sea level was 10-20 metres higher than now.”

According to a comprehensive expert analysis published earlier in November, three-quarters of the emissions reduction pledged by the nations under the Paris agreement of 2015 is “totally inadequate” that will put the world on a path to climate disaster. Another report says that nations are on track to produce more than double fossil fuels in 2030 than could be burned while keeping heating less than 1.5C.

“The [CO2 concentration] number is the closest thing to a real-world Doomsday Clock, and it’s pushing us ever closer to midnight,” said John Sauven, head of Greenpeace UK. “Our ability to preserve civilization as we know it, avert the mass extinction of species, and leave a healthy planet to our children depend on us urgently stopping the clock.”

The global average concentration of CO2 as per the WMO report, published on Monday, reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, which was 405.5ppm in 2017. It is now 50 percent higher than in 1750 before the industrial revolution sparked the widespread burning of coal, oil, and gas.

Since 1990, the heating effect of the atmosphere has become 43% stronger due to the increase in greenhouse gas levels. The major portion that is four-fifths is because of CO2. Along with that, the concentrations of the other two principal greenhouse gases, Methane, and Nitrous Oxide, also surged in 2018 by a higher amount compared to the annual average over the past decade.

The concentration of Methane is now more than double the pre-industrial levels. It is produced by cattle, rice paddies, and fossil fuel exploitation, causing 17% of the heating effect.

Nitrous Oxide, on the other hand, is now 23% higher than in 1750, which comes from heavy fertilizer use and forest burning. The observations are made by the Global Atmosphere Watch network covering stations in the Arctic, high mountains, and tropical islands.

“The record rise in greenhouse gas concentrations is a cruel reminder that for all the real progress in clean technology, we have yet to even stop global emissions increases,” said Nick Mabey, chief executive of think tank E3G. “The climate system cannot be negotiated with. Until we stop new investment in fossil fuels and massively scale up green power the risks from catastrophic climate change will continue to rise.”

While agreeing to the Paris deal in 2015, the world’s nations pledged to ramp up their promised emissions cuts by the annual UN climate summit in 2020 to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow. This year’s summit, which begins on 2 December in Madrid, Spain, needs vital preparatory work. Chile had been due to host, but because of civil unrest, it canceled.

Richard Black, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, the UK, said: “This record level of greenhouse gases should act as a sobering reminder to governments that so far they are collectively reneging on the pledge they made at the Paris summit, of attempting to keep global warming to 1.5C. That window is closing, and Chile, Italy and the UK [must] use all the diplomatic tools they have to put emissions on a trajectory closer to what science recommends and the public want.”

Arindom Ghosh

A professional writer, blogger, copywriter, and a member of the International Association of Professional Writers and Editors, New York. He has been part of many reputed domestic and global online magazines and publications. An avid reader and a nature lover by heart, when he is not working, he is probably exploring the secrets of life.