Climate Change : CO2 in Atmosphere hits new record despite lockdown

In news –

Climate-heating gases have reached record levels in the atmosphere despite the global lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization has said.

Brief –

  • There is estimated to have been a cut in emissions of between 4.2% and 7.5% in 2020 due to the shutdown of travel and other activities. But the WMO said this was a “tiny blip” in the continuous buildup of greenhouse gases in the air caused by human activities, and less than the natural variation seen year to year.
Report findings –
  • The WMO report said the monthly average CO2 for September at the benchmark station of Mauna Loa in Hawaii was 411.3ppm, up from 408.5ppm in September 2019. The same was seen at Cape Grim in Tasmania, Australia, with a rise to 410.8ppm from 408.6ppm in 2019.
  • It said there had been a “growth spurt” in the average CO2 level for the whole of 2019, rising by more than the average rate over the last decade.
  • The data shows action to cut emissions is currently far from what is needed to avoid the worst impacts of the climate emergency.
  • Scientists calculate that emissions must fall by half by 2030 to give a good chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C, beyond which hundreds of millions of people will face more heatwaves, droughts, floods and poverty.

In Focus : Climate Change

  • It is the long term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time
  • Though it has been happening naturally for millions of years, in recent years it has accelerated due to anthropogenic causes and has been causing global warming.
  • UNFCCC defines climate change as –

“a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”


Global Warming

  • An increase in the average temperature of Earth’s near surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century
  • 4th assessment report of IPCC: global temperature increased 0.74+0.18 degree C during the 20th century.
  • Caused by greenhouse gases
  • Water vapour, CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Ozone, CFCs (in order of abundance)
  • Since the industrial revolution, the burning of fossil fuels has increased the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from 280 ppm to 411 ppm (As on Sept 2020, WMO Data)

Climate Change Mitigation

  • Alternative Energy sources
    • Renewable energy
    • Nuclear Power
    • Reduce the carbon intensity of fossil fuels
  • Energy efficiency and conservation
    • Transport and urban planning
    • Building  design
    • Reforestation and avoid deforestation
    • Eliminating waste methane
  • Geoengineering
  • Greenhouse gas remediation
    • Biomass
    • Carbon air capture
    • Carbon capture  and storage
  • Societal control
    • Population
    • Sustainable life style

Impact of Climate Change

  • Melting of ice
  • Rise of sea level
  • Global sea levels are rising at the rate of 3.2 mm per year.
  • Habitat destruction and thus affecting biodiversity
  • Rising temperatures are affecting wildlife and their habitats.
  • Migration of some species to north like butterflies, foxes, alpines etc.
  • Erratic rainfall patterns
  • Polar vortex
  • Reduced nutritional value of crops
  • Coal bleaching
  • Acidification of ocean
  • Water scarcity

Reality Data check to tackle Climate Change

Climate Change Performance Index 2019

  • The Climate Change Performance Index is an instrument designed to enhance transparency in international climate politics.
  • The index evaluates the climate protection performance of 56 countries and the European Union which are together responsible for more than 90% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • The CCPI fully incor­porates the Paris Agreement measuring the performance of parties based on the promises made and delivered formulated in their Nationally Determined Contributions(NDC).
  • However, it should be noted that the NDCs if fulfilled would still see the global thermometer rise by more than 3C.
  • The CCPI evaluates the countries’ 2030 targets in 4 categories namely
    1. GHG Emissions (40% weightage)
    2. Renewable Energy (20% weightage)
    3. Energy Use(20% weightage)
    4. Climate policy(20% weightage)
  • The CCPI is a joint effort of German watch (an international NGO), New Climate Institute and Climate Action Network (CAN).

Overall Index

  • The first 3 places in the CCPI 2019 is left blank as no country performed well enough to reach the ranking very good.
  • In CCPI 2019, Sweden has topped the ranking, followed by Morocco and Lithuania.
  • The bottom most performers are Saudi Arabia, the United States, Iran, Republic of Korea and Chinese Taipei and Australia.
  • India ranks 11th this year improving its standing by three places compared to the previous edition

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