UN sounds alarm over new record greenhouse gas levels

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Geneva  –  The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) sounds alarm that the amount of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere has climbed to an unprecedented level in 2014.

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Michel Jarraud, WMO Secretary General, said on Monday in Geneva, ahead of the UN climate conference in Paris, where countries aim to agree on emission curbs, that that further inaction on climate change would turn the world into a hostile place.

He said during spring in 2015 in the northern hemisphere, global carbon dioxide (CO2) levels rose above the symbolically significant level of 400 parts per million (ppm) molecules of air.

“We will soon be living with globally averaged CO2 levels above 400 parts per million as a permanent reality.

“We have to act now to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels,” he added.

Jarraud said most of the net warming effect seen in the atmosphere over the past decade was caused by CO2, produced mainly from burning coal and oil, as well as cement production.

He added that natural reservoirs that keep CO2 out of the atmosphere have been destroyed by deforestation.

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“Every year we report a new record in greenhouse gas concentrations.

“Every year we say that time is running out.

Jarraud said a UN report indicated that since 1990, the net warming effect seen in the atmosphere has increased 36 per cent mainly because of man-made CO2 emissions.

He said the increase in other gases such as methane or nitrous oxide contributed to these.

“CO2 traps heat in the atmosphere, leading to higher temperatures, heat waves, floods, melting ice, rising sea levels and more acidic oceans.

“The laws of physics are non-negotiable.

“CO2 concentration in the air last year climbed to 143 per cent of the level seen before the industrial revolution in the 19th century,’’ he said.

Jarraud said methane emitted by agriculture and other industries reached 254 per cent of the pre-industrial level, while nitrous oxide from fertilisers and factories stood at 121 per cent.

He said that the effect from rising CO2 levels is amplified because higher surface temperatures create more water vapour, another important greenhouse gas. (dpa/NAN)

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