GREENHOUSE gas levels have reached record highs, prompting experts to warn ‘the window of opportunity for action is almost closed’ to tackle climate change.
Average concentrations of carbon dioxide hit new highs of 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, up from 403.3 ppm in 2016 and 400.1 ppm in 2015 — levels not seen for millions of years.
The levels of methane and nitrous oxide, both key greenhouse gases, also rose, the World Meteorological Organisation said. It also warned of a resurgence in a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance known as CFC-11.
The increase in gas levels, which shows no sign of stopping, is driving climate change and sea level rises, creating more extreme weather and making oceans more acidic, the UN experts said.
WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said: ‘The science is clear. Without rapid cuts in carbon dioxide 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.’
Prof Corinne Le Quéré, of the University of East Anglia, said: ‘The urgency and extent of actions needed to address climate change have not sunk in.
‘Low-carbon technologies like wind, solar, and electric transport need to become mainstream.’