The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is alarming – greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 were exceptionally high. In addition, it turned out that the COVID-19 pandemic and the related restrictions did not significantly improve the climate situation. This is a sign that the world is likely to fail to meet the goals set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
According to data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the concentration of greenhouse gases in 2020 broke another infamous record. The world is “far from the goal” to limit the rate of global temperature rise, the agency added.
The report found that carbon dioxide levels rose to 413.2 ppm (parts per million) in 2020, increasing compared to the average growth rate over the past decade. The results were not affected by the emission reductions recorded in connection with the restrictions introduced to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said the current rate of greenhouse gas growth in the near future would result in a temperature rise “well above” the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement – 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average.
“We’re well off track,” he said. “We need to revise our industrial, energy and transport systems and change the whole way of life,” he added, calling for a “dramatic increase” in commitments at the United Nations climate conference, COP26, which begins this week. Representatives from nearly 200 countries are scheduled to meet in Glasgow, Scotland, to discuss plans to strengthen action to combat climate change.
Continuous increase in emissions. “It’s not just about some chemical formula or numbers in a graph.”
The agency’s annual report reveals data on atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, gases that heat the planet and trigger extreme weather events such as heat waves and heavy rainfall.
The current average warming level is “catastrophic” at 2.7 degrees Celsius, according to the latest report. The UN hopes that world leaders will take appropriate steps at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow to bring the average temperatures down.
The document also confirmed that the economic downturn caused by the pandemic “had no discernible effect on atmospheric greenhouse gas levels and their growth rate.” It also added that the first readings from 2021 showed a steady rise in carbon dioxide levels.
– It’s not just about some chemical formula or numbers in a graph. It is about the huge negative consequences (rising temperatures) that will affect our daily life, well-being, the condition of our planet and the future of our children and grandchildren, Taalas explained.
Climate scientists say that even if action is taken immediately to rapidly reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the warming trend will not change as the effects of earlier carbon emissions will affect the planet for centuries to come.
Concerns about the oceans and land were also highlighted in the WMO report. In their opinion, they can only absorb about half of the carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the more pollutants they are able to absorb, the more limited the temperature rise is.
UN climate summits, the so-called COP (Conference of the Parties) are annual global meetings during which the next steps towards climate policy are negotiated and agreed. This year, COP26 will be held in Glasgow, UK. The conference will start on October 31 and will last until November 12.
Main photo source: Shutterstock