The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) report says the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2012.
It said this is continuing an upward and accelerating trend ,which is driving climate change and would shape the future of the planet for hundreds and thousands of years, unless nation’s do more to arrest the trend.
The WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that from 1990 – 2012 there was a 32 per cent increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate – because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.
The report which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday noted that CO2, mainly from fossil fuel-related emissions, accounted for 80 per cent of the increase.
It said the atmospheric increase of CO2 from 2011 to 2012 was higher than its average growth rate over the past 10 years, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.
It said since the start of the industrial era in 1750, the global average concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 41 per cent, methane by 160 per cent and nitrous oxide by 20 per cent.
“What is happening in the atmosphere is one part of a much wider picture. Only about half of the CO2 emitted by human activities remains in the atmosphere, with the rest being absorbed in the biosphere and in the oceans,” the report said.
“The observations from WMO’s extensive Global Atmosphere Watch network highlight yet again how heat-trapping gases from human activities have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere and are a major contribution to climate change,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its recent 5th Assessment Report stressed that atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years,” he said.
“As a result of this, our climate is changing, our weather is more extreme, ice sheets and glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising,” Mr Jarraud said.
“According to the IPCC, if we continue with ‘business as usual,’ global average temperatures may be 4.6 degrees higher by the end of the century than pre-industrial levels – and even higher in some parts of the world. This would have devastating consequences.”
“Limiting climate change will require large and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. We need to act now, otherwise we will jeopardise the future of our children, grandchildren and many future generations. Time is not on our side,” he added.
The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations – and not emissions – of greenhouse gases. Emissions represent what goes into the atmosphere. Concentrations represent what remains in the atmosphere after the complex system of interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere and the oceans. GNA