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Greenhouse gases accelerate to record peak

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on November 25, 2019 - Duration: 01:59s

Greenhouse gases accelerate to record peak

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere accelerated to a new high in 2018, the World Meteorological Organization warned on Monday.

David Doyle reports.

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Greenhouse gases accelerate to record peak

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a new record last year - not only increasing, but at a faster rate than the average rise of the past decade.

The World Metereological Organization revealed the news on Monday (November 25) with its secretary-general, Petteri Taalas, warning that the continuing trend will mean increasingly severe impacts for future generations including rising increasing temperatures, more extreme weather and sea level rises.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WMO SECRETARY-GENERAL, PETTERI TAALAS, SAYING: "At the moment we produce 85% of the global energy based on fossils, coal, oil and gas - which are shown here - and only 15% based on nuclear, hydro and renewables, and to be successful in implementation of the Paris agreement we should reverse those numbers in the coming decades." The WMO said the concentration of carbon dioxide - a product of burning fossil fuels which is the biggest contributor to global warming - surged from 405.5 parts per million in 2017 to 407.8 ppm in 2018, exceeding the average annual increase from 2005 to 2015.

Irrespective of future policy, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries, locking in warming trends.

The annual increase in methane - a greenhouse gas that is much more potent than CO2 but dissipates faster - was the highest since 1998, while nitrous oxide, which helps to erode the atmosphere's ozone layer and expose humans to harmful ultraviolet rays, saw its biggest increase ever recorded.

But Taalas said there were grounds for optimism.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) WMO SECRETARY-GENERAL, PETTERI TAALAS, SAYING: "What is good news is that the visibility of these issues is highest.

And the good news is also that the private sector is more and more interested in finding solutions." The UN agency's Greenhouse Gas Bulletin was being released ahead of a climate change s ummit in Madrid next week.

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