Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a record high in 2018, the World Meteorological Organization announced on Monday. Greenhouses gases are gases that get trapped in the earth’s atmosphere, causing global warming.
“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,” the organisation’s Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said. “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 report, termed the “WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin”, said that globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million in 2017. The increase in the levels of carbon dioxide was very close to that observed from 2016 to 2017, and just above the average of the last decade, it added.
“This continuing long-term trend means that future generations will be confronted with increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems,” Taalas added.
Carbon dioxide keeps existing in the atmosphere and the oceans for decades, even centuries. The report said that since 1990, there has been a 43% increase in total radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate – due to trapped greenhouse gases. Of this, carbon dioxide accounts for about 80%, the WMO said, quoting figures from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was 3-5 million years ago,” Taalas said. “Back then, the temperature was 2-3° Celsius warmer, sea level was 10-20 metres higher than now.”
Under the Paris deal, all signatory countries are required to keep global warming within 2° Celsius of pre-industrial levels. The climate agreement came into force on November 5, 2016.