Levels of dangerous greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has revealed.
Emissions from transport, agriculture, power generation and the residential sector continue to rise globally, driving long-term climate change, sea level rise and more extreme weather events.
The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that average concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, up from 403.3 ppm in 2016 and 400.1 ppm in 2015.
Since 1990 there has been a 41pc rise in radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate – by long-lived greenhouse gases.
“The science is clear. Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth. The window of opportunity for action is almost closed,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now.”
The figures come after Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton announced his intention to bring a cross-government action plan on climate change forward early in the new year.
This would compel government departments to set out actions they would take to drive rapid decarbonisation.
The State could be forced to pay €100m in 2020 after missing reduction targets, while the Economic and Social Research (ESRI) has also warned that unless the Government enacts new measures to reduce emissions, the carbon tax levied on home heating and motoring fuels would have to rise 15-fold from €20 per tonne to a minimum of €300 per tonne to meet 2030 targets.
The greenhouse concentrations highlighted the need for “radical action”, People before Profit TD Bríd Smith said.
“This report from the WMO is the latest in a long line of reports like the IPCC report and the Living Planet Report which show that human activity and the burning of fossil fuels is simply destroying our environment and the natural world,” she said.
“It is clear that we are standing on the precipice of ecological and environmental disaster. The government now need to have the bottle to implement emergency measures to combat what is the gravest issue facing the planet and one that could result in the sixth great extinction.”