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UN report on greenhouse gases

January 2020: Concentration of warming gases has reached a record high in 2018 and will continue to rise over the next years. The findings identify an increasing gap between ambitions set out in international accords such as the Paris Agreement and reality. The authors are calling for increased levels of ambition and acceleration for decarbonising the economy and limiting warming to 1.5C.

Information

A new UN report measuring the concentration of climate-heating greenhouse gases (GHG) finds that they have continued to rise throughout 2018. The concentration has hit a record high, suggesting that current efforts and target to curb GHG emissions show limited effectiveness. Despite international accords such as the Paris agreement, the figures suggest a continuing rise for the next years. Concentrations of warming gases are now 50% higher than during pre-industrial times, accelerating the overall warming impact of GHG emissions. The report highlights that 60% of  warming gas emissions from human activity originate from cattle farming, rice cultivation, and landfill waste deposits.

Implications and opportunities

Measurements in 2018 for key warming gases suggest that current action on climate change has had limited to no effect in the atmosphere. It indicates that emissions will have to fall by 50% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 C and reach global emission targets. The paper calls for an increase of ambition to reduce heatwaves, droughts, floods, and poverty on a global scale. They urge revision to strategies set under the Paris accord to mitigate long-term effects of climate change, such as rising temperatures, extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems.

Limitations

The study focuses on warming gases in the atmosphere on a global scale and its findings should be seen within the context of the study’s methodology and geographic context.


Sources

World Meteorological Organization. (2019). Greenhouse gas concentrations in atmosphere reach yet another high. Retrieved from https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/greenhouse-gas-concentrations-atmosphere-reach-yet-another-high.

The Guardian. (2019). Climate-heating greenhouse gases hit new high, UN reports. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/25/climate-heating-greenhouse-gases-hit-new-high-un-reports

 

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