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CO2 spurt tips global emissions past 400ppm

Global greenhouse gas emissions reached a tipping point last year, averaging above 400ppm through the whole year for the first time on record accompanied by a worrying increase in the rate of emissions, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Monday.

CO2 levels had previously reached the 400 ppm barrier for some months of the year in certain locations, but never before on a global average basis for the entire year, WMO said. The oldest greenhouse gas monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, predicts that CO2 concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for the whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations, WMO said.

WMO said the 2015/2016 El Nino weather effect has triggered a “growth spurt” in global C02 concentrations, with drought in tropical regions reducing the capacity of vegetative carbon “sinks” such as forests to absorb emissions. While these sinks currently absorb around half the C02 emitted there is a risk that they will become saturated and increase the percentage of carbon dioxide which remains trapped in the atmosphere, WMO said.

“2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement. But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

WMO and partners are working towards an Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System to provide information that can help nations to track the progress toward implementation of their national emission pledges, improve national emission reporting and inform additional mitigation actions. This system builds on the long-term experience of WMO in greenhouse gas observations and atmospheric modelling.

MS – 24/10/2016

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