The news Monday for the world from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), is grim. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere reached a record high in 2018, according to the WMO report released Monday. In fact, it’s even worse than we thought. The report showed that the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing much faster than had been projected. At the current rate, the world’s average temperature could rise in a worst-case scenario by as much as seven  degrees celsius (10.8 degrees to 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said WMO’s secretary-general Petteri Taalas.

A NASA map showing the warming of the planet in 2018, with dark orange being areas of extreme, abnormal heat. Courtesy NASA)

Carbon dioxide traps heat from the sun in the atmosphere. It can linger in the atmosphere for centuries. High levels of greenhouse gas are associated with higher global temperatures and other effects of climate change, such as melting polar ice and rising seas.

According to the agency’s report,* from 2020 to 2030, worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases need to drop more than seven percent each year to stop average global temperatures from increasing by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) this century compared with pre-industrial times. Achieving that, scientists say might help prevent many of the more dramatic consequences of global warming.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the world’s first, set out a strategy linking energy and climate policy that included the so-called 20/20/20 targets. This three-pronged goal included the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20 percent, increasing the market share of renewable energy to 20 percent, and a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency.

President Donald Trump, who publicly denies climate change and expresses strong support for the fossil fuel industry, pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord after he became president.

Achieving the 20/20/20 targets means that future generations – including today’s babies – might avoid confronting the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including; rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea-level rise and disruption to both land and marine ecosystems.

According to a Nov. 26 article by the LA Times, after remaining stable for the past several years, CO2 levels are rising, and a significant course correction has to be made because the action to reduce has not met the challenge. They quote John Christensen, lead author and director of the UNEP-Danish Technology Institute Partnership, who said, “What we are looking at is really that emissions need to go down by 55 percent by 2030.”

The WMO report was released ahead of the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference. This year it will be held on Dec. 2 to 13 in Madrid, Spain. For more abut climate change, Newsweek released this report in Sept.: Temperature Rising

*The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin showed that globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, which was already the highest level ever recorded.