Climate scientists reveal surge in greenhouse gases

9th September 2014

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Air ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Mitigation


Sam Dickie

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

In its annual greenhouse-gas bulletin, the WMO says CO2 levels increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984.

Preliminary data indicated that this was possibly related to reduced uptake of carbon by the earth’s biosphere in addition to steadily rising CO2 emissions.

The bulletin tracks levels of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, rather than emissions. Emissions represent what goes into the atmosphere, while concentrations represent what remains in the atmosphere after interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere and the oceans.

The WMO found that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2013 was 142% that of the pre-industrial era (1750), while the concentration of methane and nitrous oxide was 253% and 121% respectively.

About a quarter of total GHG emissions are taken up by the biosphere, and another quarter is absorbed by the oceans. The study found that the current rate of ocean acidification appears to be unprecedented at least over the past 300 million years.

“Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for many hundreds of years and in the ocean for even longer,” said WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud.

“Past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”

Wendy Watson-Wright, executive secretary at the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, commented:It is high time the ocean, as the primary driver of the planet’s climate and attenuator of climate change, becomes a central part of climate change discussions.

If global warming is not a strong enough reason to cut CO2 emissions, ocean acidification should be, since its effects are already being felt and will increase for many decades to come.”

Energy and climate secretary Ed Davey is today launching the government’s strategy for next year’s international climate summit in Paris.

In a statement to parliament, he said: “Paris will not be the end of the road in terms of tackling climate change, but an ambitious agreement would be a huge step forward which we can then build on in the future.”

Transform articles

National climate plans could see fossil fuel demand peak by 2025

Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

15th October 2021

Read more

The Green Homes Grant is set to deliver only a fraction of the jobs and improvements intended, leading to calls for more involvement from local authorities in future schemes.

23rd September 2021

Read more

COVID-19 recovery packages have largely focused on protecting, rather than transforming, existing industries, and have been a “lost opportunity” for speeding up the global energy transition.

23rd September 2021

Read more

Half of the world's 40 largest listed oil and gas companies will have to slash their production by at least 50% by the 2030s to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, new analysis has found.

9th September 2021

Read more

None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.

30th July 2021

Read more

The UK’s pipeline for renewable energy projects could mitigate 90% of job losses caused by COVID-19 and help deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda. That is according to a recent report from consultancy EY-Parthenon, which outlines how the UK’s £108bn “visible pipeline” of investible renewable energy projects could create 625,000 jobs.

30th July 2021

Read more

Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.

30th July 2021

Read more

The oil and gas industry is set to burn through its allocated carbon budget 13 years early unless decisive action is taken immediately, new analysis has found.

22nd July 2021

Read more

The UK will no longer use unabated coal to generate electricity from October 2024, one year earlier than originally planned, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced.

2nd July 2021

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert