UN Warns of Record High Greenhouse Gas Concentrations in 2022

  • 17 Nov 2023

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.