Earth warming accelerates as greenhouse gas levels reach record levels

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Emissions at a manufacturing complex in Toronto, Canada. UN Photo/Kibae Park

The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2013, propelled by a surge in levels of carbon dioxide, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

WMO says the trends give a clearer signal of the urgency needed for concerted international action against accelerating and potentially devastating climate change.

In its latest Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, WMO points out that between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34% increase in the warming effect on the climate due to long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide.

It warns that past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a growing impact on both global warming and ocean acidification, which could impact negatively on marine biodiversity.

WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud says every effort must be put in place to reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board.

"Time is not on our side for sure. The more we wait, the more challenging it will be, because every year passing concentrations are reaching higher and higher values and therefore it will require stronger and stronger action to avoid the climate changes to be so big that adaptation will be either more difficult in some cases impossible and in any case for expensive. Action is still possible. It will require bold decision, courageous decisions. Time is not on our side, the more we wait, the more difficult, the more expensive, the more challenging it will be."

The release of the report comes ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit to be held in New York later this month.

The conference will be seeking to spur global action at all levels to reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for an ambitious global climate agreement by 2015.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 2.01″

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