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CO2 level reaches record high in 2016: WMO

According to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the atmosphere has reached a record high.

The globally averaged concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere reached to 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2015. It is expected to surge again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event.

Key Facts

  • This is for the first time CO2 levels have reached the 400 ppm barrier on a global average basis for the entire year.
  • Besides, longest-established GHGs monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii predicts that CO2 concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations.
  • There was a 37% increase in radiative forcing (the warming effect on our climate) because of long-lived GHGs such as CO2, methane and nitrous oxide (N2O) released from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities between 1990 and 2015.

What is relation between CO2 emissions and El Niño event?

  • According to WMO, the growth spurt in CO2 was fuelled by the El Niño event, which started in 2015 and had a strong impact well into 2016.
  • The El Niño event had triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of “sinks” like forests, vegetation and the oceans to absorb CO2.
  • These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2 emissions but now there is a risk that they may become saturated.
  • Once these sinks become saturated it will increase the fraction of emitted CO2 which stays in the atmosphere.

About World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

  • WMO is an intergovernmental organization and specialised agency of the UN for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
  • Established: It had originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873.
  • Membership: 191 Member States and Territories.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

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UN appoints Mary Robinson, Macharia Kamau as special envoys for El Nino, Climate

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Mary Robinson and Macharia Kamau as UN’s Special Envoys for El Nino and Climate.

These appointments come at a time of great urgency as the drought and flooding associated with El Niño have created massive needs across the world.

The El Niño has worst affected four regions of East Africa, Southern Africa, Central America and the Pacific.

Key facts

  • These UN Special Envoys will provide the leadership required to tackle challenges and responses to climate change and El Niño in order to scale up our humanitarian response.
  • Mary Robinson: She is former President of Ireland. Previously she had worked as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and as UN special envoy for climate change.
  • Macharia Kamau: He is Kenyan diplomat. Presently, he is working as ambassador to the United Nations. He is also former president of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Board.
  • He also had served as co-chair of the UN General Assembly working group on sustainable development goals.

El Niño: It is a weather phenomenon, which occurs every two to seven years. It affects rainfall patterns and causes both drought and flooding.

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