Climate: greenhouse gas concentrations at their highest in 2020

Six days before the opening of COP26 in Glasgow, the United Nations (UN) issued a new alarming bulletin on Monday, October 25: greenhouse gas concentrations have again reached records in 2020, and the Amazon loses its capacity to absorb CO2.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), roughly half of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by human activities today remains in the atmosphere. The rest is absorbed by oceans and terrestrial ecosystems, but WMO fears that these CO sinks2 are reduced under the effect of deforestation and warming water, and their acidification. Especially since part of the Amazon “Is not [déjà] no longer a sink, but a source of carbon ”, says the bulletin. “It is alarming and it is linked to deforestation in the region”, added WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas.

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The three main greenhouse gases – CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) -, reached peaks in 2020. The annual rate of increase in concentrations of each of these gases has even exceeded the average for the period 2011-2020. The economic slowdown imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic “Had no noticeable impact” on the level and progression of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, despite a temporary decline in new emissions, explains the organization.

Warming “of about 4 degrees by the end of the century”

“At the rate of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the rise in temperatures at the end of the century will be well above the objectives of the Paris Agreement, 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels . We are very far from the goal “, warned the Secretary General of WMO. “If we continue to use fossil resources indefinitely, we could achieve a warming of around 4 degrees by the end of the century”, at-il having you.

The UN hopes world leaders in Glasgow take action to keep the planet on a bearable warming path in the coming years, as data shows CO levels2 continued to increase in 2021. This greenhouse gas, which comes mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels and the production of cement, is by far the main cause of this global warming.

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Last year, its concentration was 413.2 ppm (parts per million), 149% above the pre-industrial level. “It’s not just a chemical formula and numbers on a graph. This has massive repercussions on our daily life and well-being, on the state of the planet and on the future of our children and grandchildren ”, alerted Mr. Taalas.

Gynecologists are also alarmed

Methane, of which approximately 60% of atmospheric emissions are of human origin (ruminant farming, rice cultivation, landfills, etc.), and nitrous oxide, of which approximately 40% of emissions into the atmosphere are of human origin (fertilizers and manure), also reached peaks in concentration in 2020. As for radiative forcing (the ability of the Earth to conserve energy from the Sun or to send it back into space), which has the effect of warming the climate, it increased by 47% between 1990 and 2020.

Global temperature will continue to rise as long as emissions continue. And, since the CO2 remains for centuries in the atmosphere and even longer in the oceans, the warming already observed will persist for several decades, even if net emissions were reduced to zero quickly, warns the WMO.

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In addition, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics – which represents hundreds of thousands of maternal and child health practitioners in more than 130 countries around the world – highlights the impact of the climate crisis on human reproduction. In an article published online in theInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, the authors argue that this crisis has become “A public health emergency that disproportionately affects pregnant people, children, people from disadvantaged and marginalized communities, people of color and human reproduction”.

“Climate change may also worsen care provided throughout pregnancy and childbearing, as well as the outcome of pregnancies in countries with already low resources.”, they say. Thus, exposure to heat and air pollution during pregnancy causes “Increased risk of stillbirth, low birth weight and premature births, and a significantly increased risk of fetal congenital anomalies”, notably adds the article.

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The WMO report shows that the climate is “In uncontrolled skidding” despite warnings from experts, insists Euan Nisbet, researcher at Royal Holloway at the University of London: “The catastrophe is approaching, but we can’t prevent it, all we can do is scream. “

The World with AFP

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Climate: greenhouse gas concentrations at their highest in 2020