Carbon Dioxide Atmospheric Concentration Hits Record

"Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the world's atmosphere rose at record-breaking speed during 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization's Greenhouse Gas Bulletin; the organization said the changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are unprecedented.

Rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases have the potential to initiate unprecedented changes in climate systems, leading to "severe ecological and economic disruptions," the report said.

It indicated globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015, because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event. Concentrations of CO2 are now 145 percent of pre-industrial (before 1750) levels, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, an annual publication based on observations from the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Programme that help to track the changing levels of greenhouse gases and serve as an early warning system.

"Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet. CO2 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and in the oceans for even longer. The laws of physics mean that we face a much hotter, more extreme climate in the future. There is currently no magic wand to remove this CO2 from the atmosphere."

A separate Emissions Gap Report by UN Environment will be released Oct. 31. It tracks policy commitments made by countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and analyses how those policies will translate into emissions reductions through 2030.

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