Greenhouse gas emissions reach “all-time high”

Human-caused global warming has continued to increase at an “unprecedented rate” and has reached “its all-time high.” This is the alarming message that 50 prominent scientists from around the world wanted to send about the pressing problem posed by the massive emission of greenhouse gases. In numbers, we throw 54 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, which has caused temperatures to rise by an average of 1.14 degrees in the last decade. The consequences are well known: intense droughts, water shortages, fires, rising sea levels, floods, melting of the poles, catastrophic storms, decline in biodiversity… “This is the critical decade for climate change,” they emphasize.

Greenhouse gases – mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas – act like a blanket that surrounds the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures at a faster rate than in the last two millennia. Specifically, each of the last four decades has been warmer than any other since 1850. This problem began to gain notoriety more than a quarter of a century ago, in 1995, with the first of the annual conferences on climate change organized by the UN. That year it took place in Berlin. Two years later, in Kyoto, an agreement was reached for the first time to reduce the emission of the aforementioned gases, although it did not come into force until 2005. Ten years later, in Paris, the objective of 1.5 degrees was set. global warming to be achieved by 2050. The experts have now met to take stock of the results ahead of the new summit, which will take place in December in the United Arab Emirates.

Key climate indicators

And the balance, as has been said, is not encouraging because we are not doing enough. Since the publication just two years ago of the report of the Sixth Assessment Working Group 1 of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), greenhouse gas emissions have increased by one billion tons on average, global warming caused by man has gone from 1.07 to 1.14 degrees and the remaining carbon budget – an estimate of the amount of carbon that can be released into the atmosphere to have a 50% chance of maintaining the temperature rise within 1.5 degrees – has been halved, from 500 billion to 250 billion tons.

This data will be updated in a platform created by the University of Leeds. And experts insist on the need to have these indicators up to date in order to take the necessary measures. The sooner the better. «We need to be agile in the face of climate change. We need to change policy and approaches in light of the latest evidence on the state of the climate system. Time is no longer on our side. Access to updated information is of vital importance,” they emphasize. “Decisions made now will have an impact on how much temperatures will rise and the degree and severity of impacts we will see as a result,” they conclude.

A week ago, another group of experts warned that “the Earth is already in danger.” They explained in a study published in the journal ‘Nature’ that they had done a medical check on the planet to reach the conclusion that “safe and fair limits” had been exceeded in five critical areas. One of them was global warming. The remaining ones were biodiversity, the quality of fresh water, fertilizers – their abuse or, on the contrary, their scarcity, which does not allow crops to grow – and air pollution. “Unless a transformation occurs, irreversible tipping points and widespread impacts on human well-being are very likely inevitable,” they stressed.

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