The concentration in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, set a new record and stood at 413 parts per million in 2020, despite the relative reduction of new emissions caused by the pandemic, as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned on Monday.
A few days before the Glasgow Climate Change Summit, WMO advised that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are already 149% higher than in the pre-industrial era, and given the long duration of this gas, they can contribute to an increase in temperatures for decades, even achieving net zero emissions.
The UN agency also predicted that by the end of 2021 CO2 concentrations will once again reach record levelsIn this sense, measurements carried out in the middle of the year in observatories such as those of Tenerife (Spain) and Hawaii (USA) registered concentrations of up to 419 parts per million.
“We have to rethink our industrial, energy and transportation systems, our entire way of life“declared the WMO Secretary General, the Finnish Petteri Taalas, by presenting the new data, with which the agency hopes to influence the commitments that the international community adopts in Glasgow.
“Many countries are now setting carbon neutrality targets, and it is to be expected that at COP26 in Glasgow there will be an increase in these commitments,” said Taalas, who asserted that the changes “are economically and technically feasible, and there is no time to lose to adopt them. ”
The WMO report also highlighted that levels of other greenhouse gases, such as methane (CH4) and nitrogen oxide (N2O), are respectively 262% and 123% of those estimated in 1750. , before human activities disturbed the natural balance.
Risk of temperature rise
“At the current rate of increasing concentrations of all these gases, we will see a temperature rise much higher than the 1.5 or 2 degree targets of the Paris Agreement“, Taalas predicted.
The paralysis of important sectors of the global economy in 2020 due to the pandemic and the consequent health measures (confinements, border closures, etc.) produced a temporary reduction of new CO2 emissions, including 5.6% less than those derived from fossil fuels.
However, according to the WMO, this “had no discernible effect on greenhouse gas levels”, although the annual growth in CO2 concentration (0.6% more compared to 2019 measurements) was slightly lower. than in the previous exercise.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.