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UN: Greenhouse Gases Hit New Record    10/25 06:00

   The World Meteorological Organization reported Monday that greenhouse gas 
concentrations hit a new record high last year and increased at a faster rate 
than the annual average for the last decade despite a temporary reduction 
during pandemic-related lockdowns.

   GENEVA (AP) -- The World Meteorological Organization reported Monday that 
greenhouse gas concentrations hit a new record high last year and increased at 
a faster rate than the annual average for the last decade despite a temporary 
reduction during pandemic-related lockdowns.

   In its annual report on heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the U.N. 
weather agency also pointed to signs of a worrying new development: Parts of 
the Amazon rainforest have gone from being a carbon "sink" that sucks carbon 
dioxide from the air to a source of CO2 due to deforestation and reduced 
humidity in the region, it said.

   The findings come as WMO, in its annual report on heat-trapping gases in the 
atmosphere, said concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide 
were all above levels in the pre-industrial era before 1750, when human 
activities "started disrupting Earth's natural equilibrium."

   The report's release came days before the start of a U.N. climate change 
conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Many environmental activists, policymakers and 
scientists say the Oct. 31-Nov. 12 event, known as COP26 for short, marks an 
important and even crucial opportunity for concrete commitments to the targets 
set out in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

   "The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin contains a stark, scientific message for 
climate change negotiators at COP26," World Meteorological Organization 
Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said of his agency's report. "At the current 
rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature 
increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris agreement 
targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels."

   "We are way off track," Taalas said.

   The report draws on information collected by a network that monitors the 
amount of greenhouse gases that remain in the atmosphere after some quantities 
are absorbed by oceans and the biosphere.

   "One of the striking messages from our report is that the Amazonian region, 
which used to be a sink of carbon, has become a source of carbon dioxide," 
Taalas said. "And that's because of deforestation. It's because of changes of 
the global local climate, especially. We have less humidity and less rainfall."

   Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO's atmospheric and environment research 
division, said the results showing the Amazon going from sink to source were a 
first, but he noted they were from a specific southeastern portion of the 
Amazon, not the entire rainforest.

   The global average of carbon dioxide concentrations hit a new high of 413.2 
parts per million last year, according to the WMO report. The 2020 increase was 
higher than the annual average over the last decade despite a 5.6% drop in 
carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels due to COVID-19 restrictions, WMO 
said.

   Taalas said a level above 400 parts per million -- which was breached in 
2015 -- "has major negative repercussions for our daily lives and well-being, 
for the state of our planet and for the future of our children and 
grandchildren."

   Human-incurred carbon dioxide emissions, which result mostly from burning 
fossil fuels like oil and gas or from cement production, amount to about 
two-thirds of the warming effect on the climate. WMO said overall, an economic 
retreat last year because of the pandemic "did not have any discernible impact 
on the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and their growth rates, although 
there was a temporary decline in new emissions."

 
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