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Climate crisis: greenhouse gas levels hit new record despite lockdowns, UN reports

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Climate crisis

Levels of climate-heating gases in the atmosphere hit record levels in 2020, despite coronavirus-related lockdowns, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization has announced.

The concentration of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, is now 50% higher than before the Industrial Revolution sparked the mass burning of fossil fuels. Methane levels have more than doubled since 1750. All key greenhouse gases (GHG) rose faster in 2020 than the average for the previous decade and this trend has continued in 2021, the WMO report found.

The data shows the climate crisis continues to worsen and send a “stark” message to the nations meeting at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in a week’s time, according to WMO chief Prof Petteri Taalas: “We are way off track.”

The negotiators at the summit must deliver action to keep alive the goal of ending GHG emissions by 2050 and avoiding the worst climate impacts. Only stopping emissions will stabilise the levels of the gases and halt the temperature rises that drive the increasing damage from heatwaves, floods and droughts.



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