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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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India to eliminate use of HFC-23 by 2030

India has decided to eliminate use of HFC-23, a greenhouse gas (GHG) that harms the ozone layer by 2030. With this, India, is taking the lead on tackling climate change.

It was announced during the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol at Kigali in Rwanda. In this meeting, final negotiations are taking place to substantially reduce the use of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) by 2030.

Key Facts

  • The elimination will potentially check emissions of HFC-23 equivalent to 100 million tonnes of CO2 over the next 15 years.
  • Indian companies will not be compensated for the costs involved in ensuring that these gases are not released.
  • This move is considered as a major break away from the concept of financial assistance for every action on environment in which India earlier had shown the lead.

What is HFC-23?

HFC-23 is a by-product of HCFC-22 (Hydrochloroflurocarbon-22), which is used in industrial refrigeration. It is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) with global warming potential of 14,800 times more than that of CO2.

What is Montreal Protocol?

  • The Montreal Protocol, is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer. It came into force in 1989.
  • It aims at reducing the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODS) in order to protect the earth’s fragile ozone layer.
  • It has been ratified by 197 parties making it universally ratified protocol in United Nations history.
  • It is also highly successful international arrangement, as it has phased-out more than 95% of the ODS so far in its main mandate less than 30 years of its existence.

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Union Cabinet approves ratification of the Paris Agreement

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to ratify the Paris Agreement (on Climate Change) on Gandhi Jayanti i.e. on 2nd October 2016.

The Paris Agreement was adopted by 185 nations in December 2015.  India had signed the agreement in New York in April 2016. So far, 191 countries have signed the agreement.

When the agreement will come in force?

  • The Paris treaty on Climate Change will come into force when 55 countries contributing to 55 % of total global emission ratify the agreement.
  • So far, 61 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification, approval or acceptance accounting in total for 47.79% of the total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • With the gathering momentum and willingness expressed by several other countries it is expected that the Agreement will enter into force soon.

Significance of India’s Ratification

  • India’s decision to ratify the agreement will take the number of cumulative level of emission of countries that have ratified the agreement so far to 51.89%.
  • With its decision, India will be one of the key countries that will be instrumental in bringing the Paris Agreement into force.
  • Underlines the important role played by India’s responsive leadership in the community of nations committed to global cause of climate justice and environmental protection.

Paris Agreement gives thrust to the global actions to address climate change and pertains to post-2020 climate actions. In the pre-2020 period, developed countries are to act as per Kyoto Protocol and some developing countries have taken voluntary pledges.

For more information: Paris Agreement on Climate Change

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