Greenhouse gases hit record high
BBCNews.com, Nov. 3, 2006
The steady rise in atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change shows no signs of abating, a UN agency has announced.
The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide rose by about half a percent in 2005, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has said.
It said levels were likely to keep rising unless emissions were slashed.
The most common greenhouse gas is water vapour, followed by carbon dioxide (CO2) nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane.
"There is no sign that N2O and CO2 are starting to level off," Geir Braathen, a senior scientist at the WMO told reporters.
"It looks like it will just continue like this for the foreseeable future."
Scientists say the accumulation of such gases - generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas - traps the Sun's rays and causes global temperatures to rise.
This is expected to lead to melting of polar ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels and extreme weather such as storms and floods.
The WMO said quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) were measured at 379.1 parts per million (ppm), up 0.53% from 377.1 ppm in 2004.
Concentrations of nitrous oxide (N2O) reached 319.2 ppm in 2005, an annual increase of 0.2%.
Levels of methane, another so-called greenhouse gas, remained stable, it said.
The trend of growing emissions from industry, transport and power generation is set to continue despite an international agreement to cap emissions, the UN agency warned.
"To really make CO2 level off we will need more drastic measures than are in the Kyoto Protocol today," Geir Braathen explained.
"Every human being on this globe should think about how much CO2 he or she emits and try to do something about that."
The Kyoto Protocol sets limits for emissions of six greenhouse gases emitted mainly by burning oil, gas and coal, including CO2, from 2008, for the 165 countries that have ratified it.
The US and Australia have rejected the compulsory cap. China has ratified the Protocol, but as a developing nation, it is not required to reduce its emissions - despite its booming economy.
A report by former World Bank economist Nicholas Stern this week warned of severe problems if global warming was ignored.
The governments involved in the Kyoto Protocol are due to meet in Nairobi from Monday to examine their future path in combatting global warming.
The latest data were gathered from monitoring stations, ships and aircraft around the world and are published in the WMO's second annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.
U.N. Says 2005 Set Greenhouse Gas Record
The Associated Press, Nov. 3, 2006
GENEVA (AP) -- Heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2005 and are still increasing, the U.N. weather agency said Friday.
The measurements coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization show that the global average concentrations of carbon dioxide, or CO2, and nitrous oxide, or N2O, reached record levels last year and are expected to increase even further this year, said Geir Braathen, a climate specialist at the Geneva-based agency.
"There is no sign that N2O and CO2 are starting to level off," Braathen said at the global body's European headquarters. "It looks like it will just continue like this for the foreseeable future."
The concentration of carbon dioxide rose by about 0.5 percent last year to reach 379.1 parts per million, according to the agency. Nitrous oxide has totaled 319.2 parts per billion, which is 0.19 percent higher than in 2004. Levels of methane, another so-called greenhouse gas, remained stable since last year, Braathen said.
Water vapor is the most common greenhouse gas, followed by CO2, N2O - produced by natural sources as well as fertilizers, tree burning and industry - and methane - produced by wetlands and other natural and human processes. There is 35.4 percent more carbon dioxide since the late 18th century primarily because of human burning for fossil fuels, the WMO statement said.
Scientists say that carbon dioxide and other gases primarily from fossil fuel-burning trap heat in the atmosphere and have warmed the Earth's surface an average 1 degree in the past century.
A report this week by British government warned that global warming would devastate the world economy on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression if left unchecked.
It said such warming could have effects such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, declining crop yields, drinking water shortages, higher death tolls from malnutrition and heat stress, and widespread outbreaks of malaria and dengue fever. Developing countries often would be the hardest hit.
The U.N. agency said it also has concluded that "greenhouse gases are some of the major drivers behind global warming and climate change."
Braathen said power plants, automobiles, ships and airplanes using coal, oil or gas were contributing to the rise in carbon dioxide emissions
"The increase in CO2 is linked to the burning of fossil fuels," he said.
WMO said it based its findings on readings from 44 countries that were collected in Japan.
The agency's findings come just ahead of the second meeting of the countries that adhered to the Kyoto Protocol - aimed at capping greenhouse gas emissions and staving off global warming - to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 6-17. Under the 1997 Kyoto accord, 35 industrialized nations have committed to reducing emissions by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States, the biggest emitter, rejects the agreement.
Braathen said it would take time until the protocol, which has been in effect since last year only, leads to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and that countries need to do more.
"To really make CO2 level off, we need more drastic measures than are in the Kyoto Protocol today," he said.
On Monday, the U.N. climate treaty secretariat also reported that global greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise, with increased values from 34 industrialized nations between 2000 and 2004. In the United States, source of two-fifths of the industrialized world's greenhouse gases, emissions grew by 1.3 percent in that period, and by almost 16 percent between 1990 and 2004, the U.N. said.
© 2006 The Associated Press.