Technology & Science

Global CO2 levels shot up at record speed in 2016

The UN weather agency is warning that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere increased at record-breaking speed last year.

'We are actually moving in the wrong direction,' WMO secretary-general says

The World Meteorological Organization found that once again, CO2 levels are on the rise. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The UN weather agency is warning that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere increased at record-breaking speed last year.

World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas says rapid cuts to CO2 and other greenhouse gases are needed to avoid "dangerous temperature increases" by 2100 that would far surpass targets set in the Paris climate accord.

He says "we are actually moving in the wrong direction."

The latest WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin released Monday says a strong El Nino and human activity contributed to an increase of CO2 concentrations to 403.3 parts per million last year, up from 400 in 2015.

"As far as direct and proxy observations can tell, such abrupt changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 have never before been seen," the bulletin states.

WMO says the report breaks ground by showing the "global picture" on carbon levels. It hopes that will contribute to debate at a major climate conference in Bonn, Germany, starting next week.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.