Greenhouse gas emissions rise at fastest rate for 30 years

View of the Earth’s atmosphere from the International Space Station. Photograph: ISS/Nasa
Press Association, The Guardian, 10/09/14

Surging carbon dioxide levels have pushed greenhouse gases to record highs in the atmosphere, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has said.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide, the major cause of global warming, increased at their fastest rate for 30 years in 2013, despite warnings from the world’s scientists of the need to cut emissions to halt temperature rises.

Experts warned that the world was “running out of time” to reverse rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) to tackle climate change.

Data show levels of the gas increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984, possibly due to less uptake of carbon dioxide by ecosystems such as forests, as well as rising CO2 emissions.

The annual greenhouse gas bulletin from the WMO showed that in 2013 concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere were 142% of what they were before the Industrial Revolution.

Other potent greenhouse gases have also risen significantly, with concentrations of methane now 253% and nitrous oxide 121% of pre-industrial levels.

Between 1990 and 2013 the warming effect on the planet known as “radiative forcing” due to greenhouse gases such as CO2 rose by more than a third (34%).

The bulletin reveals concentrations of gases in the atmosphere, not emissions – around quarter of which are absorbed by the oceans and a further quarter by ecosystems...more

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