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expert reaction to World Meteorological Organization Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has published their report on the state of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere based on global observations through 2021.


Prof Euan Nisbet, Professor of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, said:

“The WMO reports summarises the current state of knowledge.  It reflects a synthesis of recent greenhouse gas work by the wider global scientific community, led by the US NOAA Collaborative Greenhouse Gas Network:

“The extreme and unexpected increase in atmospheric methane in the past two years is particularly worrying – we don’t know why this is happening.  Much of the growth may be coming from biogenic sources like wetlands and farming, especially in the Tropics.

“It is possible that strong positive feedbacks to climate change are beginning to operate,  increasing emissions.  We don’t yet know, but it’s very worrying.  If the warming is feeding the warming, meeting climate targets will be even more difficult.

“Methane is unlike CO2 – its atmospheric lifetime is less than a decade, and action to reduce human-caused methane emissions will have rapid impact.

“There is a great deal that China and India, the very largest emitters, can do to help.  Although they have not joined the Global Methane Pledge, they can inexpensively reduce emissions from their coal industries, cut landfill emissions, and stop methane-emitting crop waste fires and other waste burning.

“Tropical countries can also do much help, especially by stopping fires and covering landfills.  Not only would this inexpensively reduce methane emissions, it would also reduce widespread air pollution by other chemicals and particles in the smoke.”


Prof Dave Reay, Director of Edinburgh Climate Change Institute and Professor of Carbon Management, University of Edinburgh, said:

“For all the warm words on climate action by world leaders, for all the net zero plans of big business and industry, this comprehensive greenhouse gas assessment from the WMO is the proof of the global policy pudding.  That concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have all reached new record highs should therefore leave a nasty taste in the mouth of everyone who has the power to cut them.

“There has been some progress for sure in tackling climate change over the past decade, and so much future action is promised.  But the road to climate hell is paved with good intentions.”



‘WMO GREENHOUSE GAS BULLETIN: The State of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere Based on Global Observations through 2021’ was published by the World Meteorological Organization at 16:00 UK time on Wednesday 26 October 2022.



Declared interests

Prof Euan Nisbet: “I have no conflict of interest.  However, I am on the Scientific Advisory panel for the UNEP International Methane Emissions Observatory, part of the Global Methane Pledge.”

Prof Dave Reay: “No interests.”

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