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Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere hit new high: UN

By The Assam Tribune

GENEVA, Nov 22 - The levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, have hit a new record high, the UN said on Thursday, warning that the time to act was running out.

Ahead of the COP 24 climate summit in Poland next month, top United Nations officials are again trying to raise the pressure on governments to meet the pledge of limiting warming to the less than two degrees Celsius, enshrined in the 2015 Paris accord.

�Without rapid cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth,� the head of the World Meteorological Organisation Petteri Taalas said in a statement. �The window of opportunity for action is almost closed,� he added.

The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the UN weather agency�s annual flagship report, tracks the content of dangerous gases in the atmosphere since 1750. This year�s report, which covers data for 2017, puts the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 405.5 parts per million (ppm). That is up from 403.3 ppm in 2016 and 400.1 ppm in 2015.

�The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degree Celsius warmer,� Taalas said.

Researchers have reliable estimates of carbon dioxide concentrations rates going back 800,000 years using air bubbles preserved in ice in Greenland and Antarctica. But by studying fossilised material the WMO also has rough carbon dioxide estimates going back up to five million years.

In addition to carbon dioxide, the UN agency also highlighted rising levels of methane, nitrous oxide and another powerful ozone depleting gas known as CFC-11.

Emissions are the main factor that determines the amount of greenhouse gas levels, but concentration rates are a measure of what remains after a series of complex interactions between atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere and the oceans.

Roughly 25 per cent of all emissions are currently absorbed by the oceans and biosphere � a term that accounts for all ecosystems on Earth.

The UN�s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, net carbon dioxide emissions must be at net zero, meaning the amount being pumped into the atmosphere must equal the amount being removed, either though natural absorption or technological innovation.

WMO�s deputy chief Elena Manaenkova noted that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere and oceans for hundreds of years. �There is currently no magic wand to remove all the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,� she said, adding, �Every fraction of a degree of global warming matters, and so does every part per million of greenhouse gases.�

According to the UN, 17 of the 18 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001, while the cost of climate-related disasters in 2017 topped USD 500 billion. � AFP

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Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere hit new high: UN

GENEVA, Nov 22 - The levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, have hit a new record high, the UN said on Thursday, warning that the time to act was running out.

Ahead of the COP 24 climate summit in Poland next month, top United Nations officials are again trying to raise the pressure on governments to meet the pledge of limiting warming to the less than two degrees Celsius, enshrined in the 2015 Paris accord.

�Without rapid cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth,� the head of the World Meteorological Organisation Petteri Taalas said in a statement. �The window of opportunity for action is almost closed,� he added.

The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the UN weather agency�s annual flagship report, tracks the content of dangerous gases in the atmosphere since 1750. This year�s report, which covers data for 2017, puts the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 405.5 parts per million (ppm). That is up from 403.3 ppm in 2016 and 400.1 ppm in 2015.

�The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degree Celsius warmer,� Taalas said.

Researchers have reliable estimates of carbon dioxide concentrations rates going back 800,000 years using air bubbles preserved in ice in Greenland and Antarctica. But by studying fossilised material the WMO also has rough carbon dioxide estimates going back up to five million years.

In addition to carbon dioxide, the UN agency also highlighted rising levels of methane, nitrous oxide and another powerful ozone depleting gas known as CFC-11.

Emissions are the main factor that determines the amount of greenhouse gas levels, but concentration rates are a measure of what remains after a series of complex interactions between atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere and the oceans.

Roughly 25 per cent of all emissions are currently absorbed by the oceans and biosphere � a term that accounts for all ecosystems on Earth.

The UN�s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, net carbon dioxide emissions must be at net zero, meaning the amount being pumped into the atmosphere must equal the amount being removed, either though natural absorption or technological innovation.

WMO�s deputy chief Elena Manaenkova noted that carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere and oceans for hundreds of years. �There is currently no magic wand to remove all the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,� she said, adding, �Every fraction of a degree of global warming matters, and so does every part per million of greenhouse gases.�

According to the UN, 17 of the 18 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001, while the cost of climate-related disasters in 2017 topped USD 500 billion. � AFP

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