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Greenhouse gases hit record high in 2022

GENEVA, Switzerland: Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere hit new record highs in 2022, with no end in sight to the rising trend, the United Nations warned Wednesday.

The UN's World Meteorological Organization said levels of the three main greenhouse gases — the climate-warming carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — all broke records last year.

Such levels of heat-trapping gases will mean further temperature increases, more extreme weather and higher sea levels, the WMO said in its 19th annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

«Despite decades of warnings from the scientific community, thousands of pages of reports and dozens of climate conferences, we are still heading in the wrong direction,» said WMO chief Petteri Taalas.

The bulletin comes ahead of the November 30-December 12 COP28 UN climate summit in Dubai.

The 2015 Paris Agreement saw countries agree to cap global warming at «well below» two degrees Celsius above average levels measured between 1850 and 1900 — and 1.5C if possible.

The global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15 C above the 1850-1900 average — and Taalas said it was all but certain that 2023 would be the warmest year on record.

«The current level of greenhouse gas concentrations puts us on the pathway of an increase in temperatures well above the Paris Agreement targets by the end of this century,» said Taalas.

«This will be accompanied by more extreme weather, including intense heat and rainfall, ice melt, sea level rise, and ocean heat and acidification.

»The socioeconomic and environmental costs will soar. We must reduce the consumption of fossil fuels as a matter of urgency."

'No magic wand'

In 2022, carbon dioxide concentrations were at 418 parts per million, methane at 1,923 parts per billion and nitrous oxide at 336 parts per billion.

These values constitute, respectively, 150 percent, 264 percent and 124 percent of the pre-industrial (before 1750) levels.

Of the three major greenhouses gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) accounts for about 64 percent of the warming effect on the climate.

Global averaged concentrations of CO2 in 2022 were, for the first time, 50 percent above those of the pre-industrial era, and «continued to grow in 2023,»