The greenhouse effect, in critical figures: UN

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The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, responsible for climate change, broke record levels in 2022, an upward trend that does not seem to be reversing, according to United Nations through the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Last year, global average concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, exceeded pre-industrial values ​​by 50 percent for the first time. These levels continued to increase this year, according to the WMO's annual greenhouse gas bulletin, published two weeks before COP28, from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai.

Methane concentrations also increased, and levels of nitrous oxide, the third main gas in the process of affecting the climate, experienced the largest year-on-year increase on record between 2021 and 2022 at a level ever observed.

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“Despite decades of warnings from the scientific community, thousands of pages of reports and dozens of climate conferences, we are still heading in the wrong direction,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

The current level of greenhouse gas concentrations puts us on a path to rising temperatures well above the Paris Agreement goals by the end of this century. This will be accompanied by more extreme weather conditions, including intense heat and rain. The socioeconomic and environmental costs will skyrocket. We must urgently reduce fossil fuel consumption,” Taalas added.

According to the WMO, less than half of CO2 emissions remain in the atmosphere, more than a quarter are absorbed by the ocean and less than 30 percent by terrestrial ecosystems such as forests.

Likewise, the bulletin adds that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was between 3 and 5 million years ago, when the temperature was between 2 and 3°C warmer and sea level between 10 and 20 meters. higher than now.

There is no magic wand to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But we have the tools to strengthen our understanding of the factors driving climate change through the new WMO Global Greenhouse Gas Monitor, Taalas said.

The Global Greenhouse Gas Monitoring provides for sustained monitoring of greenhouse gases in order to account for both human activities related to and will provide vital information for the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C and aiming for 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

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