Human activity ‘could drive atmospheric CO2 in 2021 50% higher than pre-industrial levels’

The UK’s national weather service attributes the rise mainly to fossil fuel burning and deforestation

Festival Net Zero 2021

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Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2021 will reach levels 50% higher than before the industrial revolution, due to human-caused emissions.

That’s according to a new report by the Met Office, which forecasts carbon dioxide levels will exceed 417 parts per million for several weeks from April to June.

The UK’s national weather service suggests that carbon dioxide concentration this year will surpass the estimated 278 parts per million thought to exist in the late eighteenth century when widespread industrial activity began.

The analysis stresses the increase is mainly driven by emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation.

Professor Richard Betts said: “Since carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a very long time, each year’s emissions add to those from previous years and cause the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to keep increasing.

“Although the Covid-19 pandemic meant that 7% less carbon dioxide was emitted worldwide in 2020 than in previous years, that still added to the ongoing build-up in the atmosphere.

“The human-caused build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is accelerating. It took over 200 years for levels to increase by 25%, but now just over 30 years later we are approaching a 50% increase.”

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