Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Hit Record Last Year, UN Says

November 9, 2021

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a record high last year despite temporary declines during the pandemic, according to a Oct. 25 story from The Hill.

Greenhouse gas concentrations grew at a faster pace than the annual average from 2011 through 2020, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin published Monday.

Specifically, levels of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, surged to 149 percent of the pre-industrial level or the levels before 1750, when humans “started disrupting Earth’s natural equilibrium.”

Methane was 262 percent of that level while nitrous oxide was at 123 percent, a WMO press release about the report explained.

Despite stay-at-home orders and the impacts of COVID-19 contributing to a temporary reduction in these gases, the pandemic did not have “any discernible impact” on the levels of gas in the atmosphere or their growth rates, the release added.

The WMO warned that these emissions will cause increased global temperatures as well as more extreme weather patterns ranging from intense heat to rising sea levels.

This report came as the United Nations climate office also announced that the world remains off target for its goal of cutting emissions in an international effort to reduce global warming, The Associated Press reported.

Both of these looming warnings come as representatives from all over the world prepare to gather next week for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.

“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin contains a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP26,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in the press release about his organization’s report.

“At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius (2.7-3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels,” Taalas said.

“There is no time to lose,” Taalas added of the need to reduce emissions, noting that he “hoped that COP26 will see a dramatic increase in commitments.”