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GHGs increased by 32% in 2012: UN report
Nov 07, 2013

According to the United Nations World Meteorological Organization, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has reached a record high in 2012. The agency’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that between 1990 and 2012, there was a 32 per cent increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate – because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.

This continuing upward trend which is driving climate change will shape the future of the planet for hundreds and thousands of years, (WMO).

Carbon dioxide, mainly from fossil fuel-related emissions, accounted for 80 per cent of this increase. Only half of the CO2 emitted by human activities remain in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed in the biosphere and in the oceans. Then also the atmospheric increase of CO2 from 2011 to 2012 was higher than its average growth rate over the past 10 years.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already stressed in its recent Fifth Assessment Report that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. As a result of this, climate is changing, our weather is more extreme, ice sheets and glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising.

The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations – and not emissions – of greenhouse gases. Emissions represent what goes into the atmosphere, the agency pointed out. Concentrations represent what remains in the atmosphere after the complex system of interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere and the oceans.

At the same time, the Emissions Gap Report 2013, involving 44 scientific groups coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), urges wide-ranging global action to close the emissions gap.

If the international community fails to take action, the report warned, the chances of remaining on the least-cost path to keeping global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius this century will quickly diminish and open the door to a range of challenges.


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