CARBON dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere this year will reach levels 50 per cent higher than before the Industrial Revolution due to human-caused emissions, according to the annual forecast of the UK Met Office. The increase is driven by emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation, but will be slightly smaller than usual due to a temporary strengthening of natural carbon sinks, Xinhua news agency quoted the British national weather service as saying in the forecast released Friday.
Weather patterns linked to the current La Nina event are expected to promote a temporary burst of growth in tropical forests that soak up some of humanity’s emissions, it said. Despite these La Nina-related effects, CO2 will still continue to build up in the atmosphere and will exceed 417 ppm (parts per million) for several weeks from April to June in 2021, which is “50 per cent higher than the level of 278 ppm in the late 18th Century when widespread industrial activity began”, said the Met Office.
“Although the COVID-19 pandemic meant that 7 per cent less CO2 was emitted worldwide in 2020 than in previous years, that still added to the ongoing build-up in the atmosphere,” said Professor Richard Betts, who leads the production of the Met Office’s annual CO2 forecast. “The human-caused build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere is accelerating. It took over 200 years for levels to increase by 25 per cent, but now just over 30 years later we are approaching a 50 per cent increase.