The World Meteorological Agency warns that record emission levels threaten the human future.
The World Meteorological Agency (WMO) warned Monday that the soaring greenhouse gas emissions on the planet, which have set another record high, are putting the future welfare of humans at stake.
WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas made the remark as the organization rolled out its Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, ahead of Tuesday’s release of an annual United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report on the “emissions gap.” In simplest terms, that’s the distance between where humans are and where they need to be in order to manage GHG-related climate change while avoiding the worst impacts; this year’s report will, for the first time, measure annual cuts needed in the coming decade.
“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said Tallas. “We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind.”
The WMO said the carbon dioxide level reached 407.8 million in 2018, up from 405.5 million in 2017. Based on a global average, that’s about the same increase recorded in the previous year and just above the 10-year average mark. All of that carbon will remain in the oceans and atmosphere for centuries.
“Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also surged by higher amounts than during the past decade,” the WMO said. That’s based on Global Atmosphere Watch network data, based on observational stations that include sites in the remote Arctic, mountain areas and tropical islands.
Yet the carbon dioxide accounts for 80 percent of the greenhouse gases that stay trapped in the atmosphere and warm the planet. That warming effect from GHG is up 43 percent since 1990, and while that’s historically linked to emissions in United States and Europe, China is now the largest emitter.
All of which needs to be reversed, and quickly, the agencies warn. UNEP released a chapter of its new report in September that said nations must increase immediately their commitment levels to reducing emissions. As an example, just 13 countries had set a coal-free energy goal or had plans to do so – France and Italy among them – and they account for about 5 percent of total emissions linked to global electricity generation in 2016. Much more is needed from industry, business, government and citizens.
“The findings of WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin and UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report point us in a clear direction – in this critical period, the world must deliver concrete, stepped-up action on emissions,” said UNEP executive director Inger Andersen. “We face a stark choice: set in motion the radical transformations we need now, or face the consequences of a planet radically altered by climate change.”