UN Warns of Record High Greenhouse Gas Concentrations in 2022

The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization sounded the alarm on November 15, revealing that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached unprecedented levels in 2022, signalling a persistent upward trend with severe consequences.

Key Points

  • Record Highs Across Three Main Greenhouse Gases: The WMO's 19th annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports record-breaking levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in 2022, contributing to heightened temperatures, extreme weather events, and rising sea levels.
  • WMO Chief's Warning: Despite extensive scientific warnings, reports, and climate conferences, WMO chief expressed concern over the continued trajectory, emphasizing the urgent need to change course.
  • Ahead of COP28 Summit: The bulletin precedes the COP28 UN climate summit scheduled for November 30-December 12 in Dubai, drawing attention to the pressing global issue before the international community.
  • Paris Agreement Targets Unlikely: The 2015 Paris Agreement aimed to limit global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • However, the report suggests that the current greenhouse gas concentrations put the world on a path to exceed these targets.
  • 2022 Global Mean Temperature: The global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15C above the 1850-1900 average. WMO predicts that 2023 is likely to be the warmest year on record, indicating a trend toward exceeding Paris Agreement goals.
  • Dominance of Carbon Dioxide: Carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in 2022 were at 418 parts per million, reaching 150% of pre-industrial levels.
  • CO2 accounts for approximately 64% of the warming effect, and concentrations continue to rise.
  • Concerns about Methane and Nitrous Oxide: Methane and nitrous oxide concentrations also broke records in 2022, with methane accounting for around 16% and nitrous oxide around 7% of the warming effect, respectively.
  • Uncertainties and Tipping Points: Despite a broad understanding of climate change, uncertainties persist, particularly regarding the carbon cycle and potential tipping points, such as changes in the Amazon rainforest's carbon sink status.
  • Global Responsibility: Approximately 80% of greenhouse gas emissions originate from G20 countries, emphasizing the global responsibility to address the climate crisis.