How the UN wants to track greenhouse gas emissions

The United Nations wants to be able to monitor greenhouse gases anywhere and anytime. Dozens of experts are looking for the best way to achieve this.

Source AFP

The World Meteorological Organization wants to suspect a powerful tool to measure CO emissions2 in real time.
© BENJAMIN POLGE / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP

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LThe United Nations (UN) wants to stop global warming by all means. For this, dozens of experts gathered in Geneva to think about how to track greenhouse gas emissions. The goals of the World Meteorological Organization are to standardize the way data are produced, fill knowledge gaps about where greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are going, and produce faster and more accurate information about the evolution of the planet’s atmosphere. The ultimate goal is to better inform strategies to combat global warming.

In this context, the World Conservation Organization 1 concluded a three-day meeting at its headquarters in Geneva on February, bringing together more than 250 experts in oceans, space, climate and meteorology. “Climate change is the most pressing and persistent problem of our time,” said Hugo Zunker of the European Earth observation program Copernicus. “If we don’t understand how the climate is changing and what risks those changes bring, we can’t plan for a sustainable and sustainable future,” he insisted.

Data, more data

“Currently, there is no comprehensive and rapid international exchange of data from surface and space-based greenhouse gas observations,” the WHO reminded. The three main greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrogen oxide. CHO2 It alone is responsible for about 66% of global warming.

There are also gaps in knowledge about the role played by CO absorption mechanisms2 – carbon sinks – such as the Amazon rainforest, oceans and permafrost. “We have large uncertainties about the terrestrial component of CO2both carbon sources and sinks, and another unknown is methane,” said Petteri Taalas, head of the World Trade Organization.

The UN’s 2021 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, released at the UN COP27 climate summit in Egypt in November, showed the largest annual increase in methane concentrations since 1980, “and we don’t fully understand the reason behind it,” said Petteri Taalas. Therefore, WHO is developing a concept for an internationally coordinated GHG monitoring infrastructure.

The new framework should facilitate ground- and space-based greenhouse gas monitoring systems with rapid access to common standards and measurements. “The data generated by such a system will support the provision of robust quantitative data,” the WMO hopes.

The countries of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change agreed to limit global warming to ‘well below’ levels measured between 1850 and 1900 to no more than 2°C – and if possible to no more than 1.5°C.

Carbon, where are you?

A monitoring system would also provide a better understanding of the complete carbon cycle. Lars Peter Riishojgaard, who is responsible for these issues at the WMO, believes that we have a good understanding of the amount of CO2.2 released. “We know how much oil and coal gas we produce in total. We can assume that everything is on fire,” he said.

“Part of it enters the surface of the earth, and part enters the ocean. We understand the sum of these two elements, but not the individual components,” he insisted. For him, understanding the system as a whole is essential if we are to effectively mitigate its harmful effects. And you need to find reliable financing.

Most current greenhouse gas monitoring measures are highly dependent on research capacity and funding and are often very intermittent, making sustained global monitoring “difficult to achieve,” the World Research Organization says.

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