As urban areas continue to expand, it was confirmed at the recently held UN Habitat III Conference that most of the growth is unplanned and unregulated in most countries of the world.  The MENA region stands generally amongst the worst affected with the North-African half of it like Egypt literally leading the way.  The Middle-Eastern north side painfully drawn into conflict and consequent divestment is not exactly far behind.  The south-eastern as represented by countries of the GCC, have recently made giant steps in planning and regulating their respective urban spaces.  This UN sponsored Habitat III gathering in Quito, Ecuador Summit aimed at helping shape future urban living as a response to pressing demands for housing, transport, infrastructure and urban development. It counselled that this should only be other than an increase of the same sprawl of those existing urban fabrics and their ensuing impact on the environment.  With more than half of the world’s population now living in urban areas, one of the biggest impact would certainly not be a decrease in CO2 emissions.  This contribution is about relating Urban areas expanding and CO2 Emissions increasing.

Last week, surveyed CO2 levels were found to have surged to a new high thus marking the world’s changing climate in a definite way.  Global sources of CO2, dominated heavily by the US, China and Europe’s emissions have reached levels in the atmosphere unknown before and are believed not to reduce for “many generations”. 

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has declared that 2016 could be the first time in recorded history that in a full year, a certain 400 parts per million benchmark was over-taken globally.

Human emissions of CO2 notably from the ever increasingly urbanised centres of the world were aggravated by some sort of weather mishaps themselves it is confirmed were due to human activities in those centres atmosphere.

Apart from agreements to phase out HFC gases, the WMO advises that nations must thereafter focus on cutting their CO2 emissions so as, in the end, hopefully help temperatures not to increase more than 2°C.  Around 200 nations signed and ratified last year the Paris COP21 Agreement and will meet again in Marrakesh next month to wishfully decide on steps forward.

The WMO published their report on October 24th, 2016 and it is fairly explicit as to the possible effect of such phenomenon.  We believe, this will be reviewed and acted upon at the COP22 summit.

High greenhouse gas levels mark start of new era of climate reality

Globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached the symbolic and significant milestone of 400 parts per million for the first time in 2015 and surged again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

CO2 levels had previously reached the 400 ppm barrier for certain months of the year and in certain locations but never before on a global average basis for the entire year. The longest-established greenhouse gas monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, predicts that CO2 concentrations will stay above 400 ppm for the whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations.

The growth spurt in CO2 was fuelled by the El Niño event, which started in 2015 and had a strong impact well into 2016. This 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 there is a risk that they may become saturated, which would increase the fraction of emitted carbon dioxide which stays in the atmosphere, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

Between 1990 and 2015 there was a 37% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (N2O) from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.

“The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement. But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “The El Niño event has disappeared. Climate change has not.”

“The recent agreement in Kigali to amend the so-called Montreal Protocol and phase out hydrofluorocarbons, which act as strong greenhouse gases, is good news. WMO salutes the commitment of the international community to meaningful climate action,” said Mr Taalas.

“But the real elephant in the room is carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years and in the oceans for even longer. Without tackling CO2 emissions, we can not tackle climate change and keep temperature increases to below 2°C above the pre-industrial era. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Paris Agreement does indeed enter into force well ahead of schedule on 4 November and that we fast-track its implementation.” he said.

WMO and partners are working towards an Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System to provide information that can help nations to track the progress toward implementation of their national emission pledges, improve national emission reporting and inform additional mitigation actions. This system builds on the long-term experience of WMO in greenhouse gas observations and atmospheric modelling.

WMO is also striving to improve weather and climate services for the renewable energy sector and to support the Green Economy and sustainable development. To optimize the use of solar, wind and hydropower production, new types of weather services are needed.

Read more at the above mentioned WMO website.