Heavy methane gas increase threatens world climate targets

Salt Lake CitySmog covers Salt Lake City as an inversion lingers. When it comes to their views on climate change, Americans are looking at natural disasters and their local weather, according to a new poll. (Ravell Call/The Deseret News via AP, File)

A dramatic increase in the methane gas level in the atmosphere could threaten the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees wrote The Guardian newspaper.

The information comes from a recent research article published in the American Geophysical Union, the newspaper reported.

The researchers have recorded a sharp increase in greenhouse gas over the past four years.

“It is particularly alarming as we are still not sure why the level of methane in the atmosphere is increasing” said one of the authors, Professor Euan Nisbet at Royal Holloway Research University, part of the University of London.

According to Nisbet, the level of methane rose, mainly from fossil fuels, throughout much of the 20th century, but stabilised at the beginning of the 21st century. He believes it is therefore surprising that the level rose again in 2007, and that the increase accelerated further from 2014 until today.

In 2016, the world’s countries committed themselves through the Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 2 degrees and, if possible, below 1.5 degrees. It was known that achieving this goal, mainly through cuts in CO2 emissions, would be difficult.

The increase in the concentration of methane gas makes the task more difficult, and the researchers say that further cuts in CO2 emissions may be needed to fulfill the agreement.

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