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Climate Change: Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Again Break Records

These reports will help delegates from almost 200 countries when they meet in Madrid next week for COP25, the annual round of international climate talks

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greenhouse emissions
Currently, the planet is moving toward the high estimates of greenhouse gas concentrations. Pixabay

Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases once again reached new highs in 2018, a media report said on Monday.

Though the increase in CO2 was just above the average rise in the last decade, the levels of other warming gases like methane and nitrous oxide had surged by above average amounts, a BBC report quoted the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as saying.

It said that since 1990, there was an increase of 43 per cent in the warming effect on the climate of longlived greenhouse gases.

The WMO report looks at the concentrations of warming gases in the atmosphere rather than just emissions.

Emissions refer to the amount of gases that go up into the atmosphere due to the use of fossil fuels, such as burning coal for electricity and from deforestation whereas concentrations are what’s left in the air after a complex series of interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, forests and land.

About 25 per cent of all carbon emissions are absorbed by the seas, and a similar amount by land and trees.

With the use of data from monitoring stations in the Arctic and across the world, researchers said that in 2018, CO2 concentrations reached 407.8 parts per million (ppm), compared with 405.5 ppm a year earlier.

This increase has been above average for the last 10 years and 147 per cent of the “pre-industrial” level in 1750.

climate change catastrophe
Greenhouse gases have continued to climb, and “climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated,” the report said. Pixabay

The WMO also records the concentrations of other warming gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. About 40 per cent of the methane released into the air comes from natural sources and 60 per cent from human activities like cattle farming, rice cultivation and landfill dumps.

Methane is now at 259 per cent of the pre-industrial level. The increase over the past year was higher than both the previous annual rate and the average over the past 10 years.

“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change,” the report quoted WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas as saying.

“We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind,” he added.

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He said the last time our planet experienced comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago when the temperature was 2-3 degree Celsius warmer and sea level 10-20 metres higher than now.

Preliminary findings from this study, published during the UN Secretary General’s special climate summit last September, indicated that emissions continued to rise during 2018.

These reports will help delegates from almost 200 countries when they meet in Madrid next week for COP25, the annual round of international climate talks. (IANS)

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Amazon Employees Risk Their Jobs by Criticizing Amazon’s Record on Climate Change

Workers Criticize Amazon on Climate Despite Risk to Jobs

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Amazon employees
Employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle. VOA

Hundreds of employees are openly criticizing Amazon’s record on climate change despite what they say is a company policy that puts their jobs at risk for speaking out.

On Sunday, more than 300 employees of the online retail giant signed their names and job titles to statements on blog post on Medium. The online protest was organized by a group called Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, an advocacy group founded by Amazon workers that earlier this month said the company had sent letters to its members threatening to fire them if they continued to speak to the press.

“It’s our moral responsibility to speak up, and the changes to the communications policy are censoring us from exercising that responsibility,” said Sarah Tracy, a software development engineer at Amazon, in a statement.

Amazon employees at the company logistics centre in Boves
The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France. VOA

Amazon said that its policy on external communications is not new and is in keeping with other large companies. It said the policy applies to all Amazon employees and is not directed at any specific group.

“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside the company that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” according to a spokesperson from the company.

Amazon, which relies on fossil fuels to power the planes, trucks and vans that ship packages all over the world, has an enormous carbon footprint. And its workers have been vocal in criticizing some of the company’s practices.

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Last year, more than 8,000 staffers signed an open letter to CEO and founder Jeff Bezos demanding that it cut its carbon emissions, end its use of fossil fuels and stop its work with oil companies that use Amazon’s technology to locate fossil fuel deposits.

The company said in a statement that it is passionate about climate change issues and has already pledged to become net zero carbon by 2040 and use 100% renewable energy by 2030. (VOA)