Graph of the day illustrates countries should sacrifice ‘growth’ during COP21, the Paris climate summit

World atmospheric CO2 concentration rise, 2015
This CO2 concentration graph was released today in a report by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) – let’s say the folks that really know about the atmosphere – at the eve of ‘COP21′, the UN climate conference that will be held in Paris in December. Their report contains a very unmasked political message we should all take at heart in this important climate year.

When WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud adds the below three quotes to its release – you get a feel that even the top scientists with high-ranking positions in society are as worried as we are:

“Every year we report a new record in greenhouse gas concentrations. Every year we say that time is running out – we have to act NOW to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels.”

“We can’t see CO2. It is an invisible threat, but a very real one. It means hotter global temperatures, more extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods, melting ice, rising sea levels and increased acidity of the oceans. This is happening now and we are moving into unchartered territory at a frightening speed.”

For further reading here is the WMO press release – and here is the actual report, the WMO ‘Greenhouse Gas Bulletin’ (PDF).

But there is one slight detail in this graph that we feel we cannot ignore – so we add a tiny additional comment of our own.

Our own tiny little comment to world leaders just before ‘Paris’

If you look at the graph you see continuous growth of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. CO2 works cumulative (apart from the seasonal fluctuation – which is essentially nature breathing in (northern hemisphere summer) and out (northern hemisphere winter)) – so more or less by definition we will not witness this graph go down – ever – not on the human timescale.

But what is striking is the extremely undisturbed trend. It just goes up – with one single speed. Rather merciless. In 2009 we had the (failed) Copenhagen climate summit, and indeed we don’t see any climate policy results in a disturbance of the trend. Same for the Kyoto Period – agreed in 1997, ended in 2012.

But if we look closer there is one dent in this graph – in the early nineties. That global weakening of the rise of atmospheric CO2 concentrations is the result of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It illustraties one clear message to world leaders just before the Paris climate summit: The effective global climate policy that we need – cannot come without ‘economic sacrifice’. To breach the emissions trend – we need to reconsider the importance of growth to our collective well-being. And you, world leaders, have just three weeks left to think about that – think hard, and make the right decisions.

Emissions need to go DOWN – globally, immediately.

For comparison:

  • Here is the coupled world temperature graph – including the 2015 temperature record (please note there is a 40-year delay in the climate system, the current temperature extremes are the result of the CO2 concentration of 1975(!!) – which is not even on today’s WMO graph(!))
  • And here is the current ‘Paris pledge emissions graph’ – illustrating countries are not listening to Mr Jarraud – and – if they would implement their pledges – plan to increase the CO2 concentration to 670 ppm CO2/860 ppm CO2eq

© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org

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