By Tom Miles, November 6, 2013
GENEVA, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Atmospheric volumes of greenhouse gases
blamed for climate change hit a new record in 2012, the World
Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Wednesday.
all these major greenhouse gases the concentrations are reaching once
again record levels," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud told a news
conference in Geneva at which he presented the U.N. climate agency's
annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin .
Jarraud said the
accelerating trend was driving climate change, making it harder to
keep global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius, a target agreed at a
Copenhagen summit in 2009.
"This year is worse
than last year, 2011. 2011 was worse than 2010," he said. "Every
passing year makes the situation somewhat more difficult to handle, it
makes it more challenging to stay under this symbolic 2 degree global
Greenhouse gas emissions are set to be
8-12 billion tonnes higher in 2020 than the level needed to keep global
warming below 2 degrees, the U.N. Environment Programme said on
If the world pursues its "business as
usual" trajectory, it will probably hit the 2 degree mark in the middle
of the century, Jarraud said, noting that this would also affect the
water cycle, sea levels and extreme weather events.
more we wait for action, the more difficult it will be to stay under
this limit and the more the impact will be for many countries, and
therefore the more difficult it will be to adapt."
said the climate system was dominated by the ocean rather than the
atmosphere, and the time needed to warm the seas meant the full impact
of current emissions would only be felt later.
if we were able to stop today - we know it's not possible - the ocean
would continue to warm and to expand and the sea level would continue
to rise for hundreds of years."
Delegates from over 190
nations meet in Warsaw next week for a U.N. conference to work on
emission cuts under a new climate pact to be signed by 2015, but to
come into force only in 2020.
The WMO bulletin
said the volume of carbon dioxide, or CO2, the primary greenhouse gas
emitted by human activities, grew faster in 2012 than in the previous
decade, reaching 393.1 parts per million (ppm), 41 percent above the
The amount of the gas in the atmosphere grew by 2.2 ppm, higher the average of 2.02 ppm over the past 10 years.
dioxide is very stable and is likely to remain in the atmosphere for a
long time, Jarraud said. The concentrations were the highest for more
than 800,000 years, he said.
"The increase in CO2
is mostly due to human activities," Jarraud said. "The actions we take
now or don't take now will have consequences for a very, very long
The second most important greenhouse
gas, methane, continued to grow at a similar rate to the last four
years, reaching a global average of 1819 parts per billion (ppb) in
2012, while the other main contributor, nitrous oxide, reached 325.1