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expert reaction to Met Office forecast of atmospheric CO2 to be 50% higher in 2021 than before the industrial revolution

A Met Office forecast predicts that in 2021, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reach levels 50% higher than before the industrial revolution, due to human-caused emissions.


Dr Heather Graven, Reader in Climate Physics, Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College, said:

“This is another grim milestone in the unrelenting rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration. The annual rise in CO2 has been increasing over the past few decades as more and more fossil fuels are being burned, meaning that climate change is accelerating. To slow and eventually stop climate change, major, coordinated actions need to be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero.”


Prof Grant Allen, Manchester Environmental Research Institute, University of Manchester, said:

“The Hawaii monitoring site is seen as a global background reference for CO2 in the atmosphere because of its altitude and remote location. The Met Office forecast of CO2 at the site is a useful informed indicator of predicted global change in CO2 that can be compared each year.

“The forecast this year shows that global CO2 is expected to continue to grow year-on-year and may exceed pre-industrial concentrations by more than 50% for the first time in the modern era. This is despite small emissions reductions associated with global pandemic lockdowns and reduced industrial activity, and an increased uptake by the natural environment associated with a La Nina episode.

“Overall, this tells us that we continue to emit more CO2 than the natural environment can absorb and that CO2 concentrations (and therefore global warming) will continue to increase, even under favourable natural circumstances. We urgently need to tip this balance. Emissions reductions policies must continue at speed. Net Zero policies announced by the UK and China are a promising sign and this should be the rapid goal internationally if we are to avoid extremely dangerous consequences of climate change in this century.”



Declared interests

None received.

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