Greenhouse gas levels hit new high despite COVID-19 restrictions

On Monday, the UN said greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – a major contributor to climate change – reached record highs last year and have continued to rise this year despite containment measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is the United Nations specialized intergovernmental agency in meteorology. Founded in 1950. It is the competent UN body for monitoring the state of the Earth’s atmosphere and its interaction with the oceans. The organization said Monday that lockdowns, border closures, shutdowns, and other measures to contain the pandemic had reduced emissions of many pollutants and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

However, WMO officials warned that the industrial recession due to the pandemic did not curb record concentrations of greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, rising temperatures, causing sea levels to rise.

“The drop in emissions associated with the lockdown is just a tiny mark on the long-term timeline,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement. “And we need constant smoothing of the curve.”

Preliminary estimates from the WMO annual bulletin suggest that daily CO₂ emissions could be reduced by as much as 17% globally during the pandemic restrictions. At the same time, the annual effect will decrease by 4.2-7.5%.

And yet, this will not lead to a decrease in the concentration of CO₂ in the atmosphere, according to the WMO report. The point is that the impact of restrictions on greenhouse gas concentrations was insufficient. The CO₂ concentration will continue to rise, albeit at a somewhat slower pace.

“In the short term, the impact of COVID-19 restrictions cannot be distinguished from natural variability,” it said.

Taalas noted that the world exceeded the global carbon dioxide threshold of 400 ppm in 2015.

“And just four years later, we surpassed 410 ppm. Such growth has never been in the history of our records, ”concludes the head of WMO.

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