The United Nation’s weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said in its annual report on Monday that greenhouse gas levels in the planet’s atmosphere reached a record high in 2020.
The WMO’s report showed that carbon dioxide levels peaked at 413.2 parts per million in 2020, building at a much higher pace than the yearly average for the past decade, despite a small lull during the beginning of the pandemic’s lockdowns.
Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – the gases that contribute the most significantly to global warming while also causing catastrophic weather events – were all far above amounts found in the pre-industrial era before 1750, when humans “started disrupting Earth’s natural equilibrium,” according to the agency.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas cautioned that the pace at which heat-trapping gases are increasing would lead to elevations in temperature “far in excess” of 1.5C (2.7F) – which is the standard decided on in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
“We are way off track,” Taalas said.
“We need to revisit our industrial, energy, and transport systems and whole way of life,” he added. The Secretary-General also demanded a “dramatic increase” in efforts at the forthcoming UN climate change conference, known as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland.
Scientists, policymakers, and other environmentalists believe that the October 31-November 12 event will be of peak importance for establishing serious engagement with the goals laid out in the 2015 Paris accords.
A total of 200 countries will be represented at the conference.
WMO official says we “have no time to lose” in combatting greenhouse gas emissions
The conference comes at a time were world leaders have entered an unprecedented territory in their battle with the consequence’s of their own activity on the planet, and the Taalas’s warning couldn’t be any more grave:
“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now”, said Taalas. “But there weren’t 7.8 billion people then.”
“We need to transform our commitment into action that will have an impact of the gases that drive climate change. We need to revisit our industrial, energy and transport systems and whole way of life”, said the WMO official.
“The needed changes are economically affordable and technically possible. There is no time to lose.”
The WMO report was created by compiling information collected by a network that analyzed the number of greenhouse gases that stay in the atmosphere following absorption by the ocean and the biosphere.
Taalas added that the possibility of reaching levels beyond 400 parts per million “has major negative repercussions for our daily lives and wellbeing, for the state of our planet and for the future of our children and grandchildren.”