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Brunei
Thursday, December 8, 2022
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    Greenhouse gases reach new record in 2021

    Jamey Keaten

    GENEVA (AP) – The three main greenhouse gases hit record high levels in the atmosphere last year, the United Nations (UN) weather agency said on Wednesday, calling it an “ominous” sign as war in Ukraine, rising costs of food and fuel, and other worries have elbowed in on longtime concerns about global warming in recent months.

    “More bad news for the planet,” the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a statement along with its latest annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

    It’s one of several reports released in recent days looking at several aspects of humanity’s struggle with climate change in the run up to the UN’s latest climate conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

    Of the three main types of heat-trapping greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – the biggest jump from 2020 to 2021 was in methane, whose concentrations in the air came in with the biggest year-on-year increase since regular measurements began four decades ago, WMO said.

    A cow walks through a field as an oil pumpjack and a flare burning off methane and other hydrocarbons stand in the background in the Permian Basin in North America. PHOTO: AP

    “The continuing rise in concentrations of the main heat-trapping gases, including the record acceleration in methane levels, shows that we are heading in the wrong direction,” said WMO Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas.

    Methane is more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, but doesn’t stay in the atmosphere nearly as long as carbon dioxide and there’s 200 times more carbon dioxide in the air than methane. Methane is up 162 per cent to 1,908 parts per billion, and nitrous oxide – whose human-made sources are things like biomass burning, industrial processes and fertiliser use – is up about one-quarter to 334.5 parts per million.

    Earlier on Wednesday the UN’s climate office said current pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions put the planet on course to blow past the limit for global warming countries agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

    “We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world,” head of the UN climate office Simon Stiell said in a statement.

    “To keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.”

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