By Bella Conte
Greenhouse gas emissions hit an unprecedented peak in 2022, signaling a troubling trend with no signs of diminishing, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says.
The WMO report reveals that global concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most crucial greenhouse gas, not only surpassed pre-industrial levels by 50% but continued to escalate into 2023.
Fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas-were the primary contributors to these emissions which produce the heat-trapping effect, leading to global warming and climate change.
Besides, methane concentrations rose, and nitrous oxide experienced its highest year-on-year increase on record from 2021 to 2022.
Despite decades of warnings and numerous climate conferences, the Secretary-General of the WMO, Petteri Taalas, emphasized that the world is still heading in the wrong direction. This path poses a severe threat, exceeding the temperature targets outlined in the Paris Agreement by the end of the century.
Taalas urgently called for a reduction in fossil fuel consumption, warning of heightened risks of extreme weather events, along with significant socio-economic and environmental costs.
Notably, almost half of CO2 emissions persist in the atmosphere, with a quarter absorbed by the ocean and nearly 30% by land ecosystems, including forests.
He emphasized that, without substantial changes, CO2 will linger in the atmosphere for decades, sustaining global temperature increases.
In response to this critical situation, the WMO launched the Global Greenhouse Gas Watch initiative in 2023, aiming to enhance global monitoring of greenhouse gas concentrations and fluxes.
Taalas expressed optimism that this initiative will significantly improve sustained observations and monitoring to effectively address climate change.
The escalating greenhouse gas emissions crisis is further exacerbated by factors such as deforestation, industrial activities, and agricultural practices. The growing global population and increased energy demand contribute to the continued reliance on fossil fuels, intensifying the emission problem.
Efforts to transition to renewable energy sources, enhance energy efficiency, and implement sustainable land-use practices are crucial in mitigating the escalating threat of climate change. The need for international collaboration and stringent policies to curb emissions is more pressing than ever, as unchecked greenhouse gas emissions continue to jeopardize the planet’s ecological balance.