A report by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has revealed there were record levels of CO2 found in the atmosphere in 2016.
Caused by a combination of human-activity and the El Niño weather phenomenon the CO2 rise has moved at a speed not seen in 800,000 years.
The report reveals that concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are now 145% of the pre-industrial (before 1750) levels.
Despite action being taken by countries across the globe, the report states that these unprecedented levels will lead to huge changes in climate systems causing “severe ecological and economic disruptions.”
The report uses data collected by research stations in over 50 countries around the globe including Antarctica.
These findings are designed to be an early warning system for the planet allowing us to potentially avert irreversible changes in the climate.
Despite this CO2 levels have continued to rise thanks to increase agriculture, population growth and the continued burning of fossil fuels on a massive scale.
“Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet, “ he said.
The problem with CO2 is that there is no quick solution to the problem, it remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years and even longer in the oceans. What that means is that even if we start trying to fix the problem now the simple fact is we’re still going to have to deal with the consequences of our actions.
“There is currently no magic wand to remove this CO2 from the atmosphere,”said Mr Taalas.
According to the report, the last time the Earth experienced these levels of CO2 was some 3.5 million years ago. Back then the Earth was 2-3 degrees warmer and the ocean levels were around 10-20 metres higher than they are now.
While there has been a considerable uptake in the use of renewable forms of energy, the report shows that this is just the start of what will be a long and difficult process.
According to Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, there is one key ingredient currently missing from our approach to tackling climate change.
“We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge. What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency,” he said.