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expert reaction to data on global temperature and CO2/methane

The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service has published new data on global temperatures, and carbon dioxide and methane concentrations.


Prof Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts Research at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said:

“Even though global CO2 emissions have stayed roughly constant over the past decade, this means we are still continuing to add CO2 to the atmosphere – so the concentrations of CO2 in the air are still increasing, and global temperatures are still rising. To halt the warming we need to actually stop the rise in CO2 concentrations, which means we need to stop adding more CO2 to the atmosphere altogether.”


Prof Rowan Sutton, National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading, said:

“At a global level the warming may appear gradual but it is the impact on extreme events in many different parts of the world that is dramatic. 

“We should see the record breaking 2021 events, such as the heatwave in Canada and floods in Germany, as a punch in the face to make politicians and public alike wake up to the urgency of the climate emergency.  Moreover, the continued increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere screams out that the underlying causes have yet to be addressed.”


Prof Richard Allan, Professor of Climate Science, University of Reading, said:

“Although La Nina conditions in the Pacific ocean temporarily suppressed slightly human-caused warming of climate in the first half of 2021, the damaging flooding in central Europe and severe heatwaves and wildfires across the Mediterranean and North America illustrate that when extreme weather patterns hit, they are more severe in a world that is over 1 degree Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times. This ongoing monitoring of the planet is vital in documenting and improving resilience to impacts and identifying surprises that are emerging such as a continued surge in methane concentrations and the sheer severity of climatic extremes now being experienced.”


Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Chair of the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, said:

“It gets difficult to say something new each time we see signs of another nail in the planetary coffin!

Yet another warning of what we are doing to our planetary home. Real action to curb our greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and globally is desperately needed.”


Prof Dave Reay, Director of Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, University of Edinburgh, said:

‘Satellite monitoring is crucial to our understanding of global climate change and of its impacts and causes right down to local scales. These latest data are a matter-of-fact litany of record breaking global temperatures, extreme weather events and greenhouse gas concentrations, but if climate data had a face then these orbitting ‘Eyes on the Earth’ would be weeping.’


Prof Paul Palmer, Science Director of the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) at the University of Edinburgh, and Space4Climate which represents the UK Earth Observation community, said:

“The Copernicus report is a stark reminder of the herculean efforts that are still needed to purposefully and urgently reduce fossil fuel emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and to improve understanding of the natural fluxes of GHGs that are responding to a warming climate. It is also a reminder of the many invaluable contributions from satellite data that improve our understanding of Earth’s evolving climate.”



Declared interests

Prof Richard Betts: “I work for the Met Office Hadley Centre which is funded by the UK government. I lead the Met Office’s official annual forecast of atmospheric CO2 concentrations”

Prof Dave Reay: “no interests declared.”

No others received.

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