Carbon dioxide and methane increased sharply during 2023

Carbon dioxide, the most important human-caused greenhouse gas, increased during 2023 by the third-highest amount in 65 years of measurements, according to NOAA. The increase from January to December was 2.8 ppm and the average level for the year was 419.3 ppm. This is 50% higher than pre-industrial levels and clearly above the recommended level of 300 ppm for a favorable climate.

Methane levels also increased rapidly during 2023, albeit at a lower rate than the record years 2020-2022. The increase during 2023 was 11.1 ppm and the average was 1922.6 ppm. Both carbon dioxide and methane increased by a full 5.5% over the past decade.

The role of methane in global warming

Methane accounts for about 30% of the current temperature increase, while carbon dioxide contributes about twice as much. But per molecule, methane has a 28 times stronger warming effect than carbon dioxide. On the other hand, methane only remains in the atmosphere for a decade, compared to centuries for carbon dioxide. Methane also lacks carbon dioxide’s temporary carbon storage.

The continued increase in greenhouse gas levels is extremely concerning. Current measures are clearly not sufficient to reduce emissions at an adequate rate. The article shows how both carbon dioxide and methane are driving warming, with methane having a short-term but very powerful effect.

To avoid dangerous climate change, resolute action is required to rapidly reduce emissions from fossil fuels, agriculture, and waste. Powerful policy instruments and regulations are needed. At the same time, we must increase natural carbon sinks such as forests. All countries and sectors must contribute significantly more. The pace of climate action must be stepped up considerably to secure a sustainable future.

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Per-Olof Hall

Writes about health and sustainability, combining unique insights with over 15 years of experience as owner and consultant at PlanetPeople AB.