A recent report released by the World Metrological Organization (WMO) has revealed that greenhouse gasses have increased to record highs in the atmosphere despite the lockdowns caused by the pandemic. Contrary to the expectations of many, the amount of greenhouse gases has been on the rise in 2020.

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The slowdown in economic activities and travel across the world is estimated to have caused a 4.2% to 7.5% reduction in the overall emissions in 2020. According to the WMO, this minor reduction due to the pandemic was nothing compared to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Worse yet, the report indicates that growth is higher than the average rate in the past 10 years.

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“The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph. We need a sustained flattening of the curve,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary-general for the WMO.

The reviewed data revealed that the benchmark station of Mauna Loa in Hawaii experienced a higher rate of carbon emissions in 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019. The station recorded 411.3 ppm in 2020 and 408.5 ppm in September 2019. The same scenario was observed in Tasmania, Australia, where carbon dioxide levels rose to 410.8ppm in September 2020 from 408.6ppm in September 2019.

The WMO secretary-general said that these figures are worrying if we look at the fast rate of growth each year. “We breached the global [annual] threshold of 400ppm in 2015 and, just four years later, we have crossed 410ppm,” Taalas said. “Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records.”

Those behind the report are now calling for stringent actions to be taken if the world is to meet the crucial target of cutting emissions in half by 2030. Otherwise, global warming will lead to increased poverty, malnutrition and deaths from droughts, floods, heatwaves and fires.

“The needed changes are economically affordable and technically possible and would affect our everyday life only marginally,” Taalas said. “It is to be welcomed that a growing number of countries and companies have committed themselves to carbon neutrality. There is no time to lose.”


Via The Guardian

Image via Thomas Millot