CO2 levels hit new record high in 2017 | News | DW | 22.11.2018
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CO2 levels hit new record high in 2017

The warming effect of greenhouse gases has increased 41 percent since 1990, according to the UN's weather organization. It said the window of opportunity to act against climate change "is almost closed."

The levels of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere rose to a new record high last year, the UN's weather organization said on Thursday.

According to the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, there is also no sign of a reversal of this trend.

The organization said the increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are a driving force for long-term climate change, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

Since 1990, the WMO has recorded a 41 percent increase in the warming effect of greenhouse gases. The increase in CO2, the main long-lived greenhouse in the atmosphere, is caused by human activities like burning coal and other fossil fuels.

The global average concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 405.5 parts per million in 2017, an increase both from 2016 and 2015.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement that the window of opportunity to stop climate change "is almost closed."

"The science is clear. Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth," he said.

The data released by the WMO comes after an October report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which showed that net CO2 emissions must reach zero around 2050 in order to limit temperature increases. A temperature increase of under 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) would reduce the consequences of global warming for humans and ecosystems.

Both the reports will be the foundation for the UN climate change negotiations, which will take place in Katowice, Poland from December 2-14.

The negotiations aim to set down the guidelines for the implementation of the Paris Climate Change agreement, which aims to keep the global temperature increase as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.

"There is currently no magic wand to remove all the excess CO2 from the atmosphere," said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova in a statement. "Every fraction of a degree of global warming matters, and so does every part per million of greenhouse gases."

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