Scientists call for action to tackle CO2 levels

Coal power station and wind turbines The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago

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Scientists are calling on world leaders to take action on climate change after carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere broke through a symbolic threshold.

Daily CO2 readings at a US government agency lab on Hawaii have topped 400 parts per million for the first time.

Sir Brian Hoskins, the head of climate change at the UK-based Royal Society, said the figure should "jolt governments into action".

China and the US have made a commitment to co-operate on clean technology.

But BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin said the EU was backing off the issue, and cheap fossil fuels looked attractive to industries.

The laboratory, which sits on the Mauna Loa volcano, feeds its numbers into a continuous record of the concentration of the gas stretching back to 1958.

'Sense of urgency'

Carbon dioxide is regarded as the most important of the manmade greenhouse gases blamed for raising the temperature on the planet over recent decades.

Human sources come principally from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

Ministers in the UK have claimed global leadership in reducing CO2 emissions and urged other nations to follow suit.

Sir Brian John Hoskins Sir Brian Hoskins said a greater sense of urgency was needed

But the official Climate Change Committee (CCC) last month said that Britain's total contribution towards heating the climate had increased, because the UK is importing goods that produce CO2 in other countries.

The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago - before modern humans existed.

Scientists say the climate back then was also considerably warmer than it is today.

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, said a greater sense of urgency about tackling climate change was needed.

"Before we started influencing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, over the last million years it went between about 180 and 280 parts per million," he said.

"Now, since the Industrial Revolution and more in the last 50 years, we've taken that level up by more than 40% to a level of 400 and that hasn't been seen on this planet for probably four million years.

"But around the world, there are things happening, it's not all doom and gloom," he added.

"China is doing a lot. Its latest five year plan makes really great strides."

China's plan for 2011-2015 includes reversing the damage done by 30 years of growth and increasing the use of renewable energy.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Never mind the *evidence* - You've got a belief system to support

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Before you start complaining about green taxes and subsidies for renewables, have a read of this:
    The IMF have produced a report highlighting the high level of tax breaks supporting the fossil fuel industry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    It's to late to stop the climate changing dramatically for the worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    We need to do most environmental things anyway they are good even without CO2 reducing. Drive less or not at all, saves you money! Insulate your own home, saves you money. Not flying saves you money. Live, work, play, shop, local, saves you money and delivers a better life for you and those around you. Relax stop working so hard supposedly enjoying yourself, it is almost all a con to make you buy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    @20.BLACK_PEARL - You read the "Patriot Post"...this has been proven time and time again to publish spurious stories with even more spurious "facts". The "climate change is a hoax" theorists in America have been found to be backed financially by the energy industry. Is it not possible that it is you yourself that is being "played"? Wake yerself up, Black Pearl!

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    11. Evil_Dr_Fish
    ...there has been NO global warming since around the year 2000. This is almost as many years as there was warming preceding it.

    This is completely inaccurate. The records show a general warming trend from 1850, which is when records began. Picking the dates 2000 and 2013 may show you a slight negative trend because they are too close together to show anything significant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    I'm always amazed that geothermal energy never seems to be considered a valid choice. It's clean, self-replenishing and abundant. We should be focusing on that as well as solar and wind energy, instead of nuclear or hydrogen-based energy sources that actually use more energy to create than they give out. And don't even get me started on 'clean coal.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Why dont the government make public transport cheaper?,It is often cheaper for me to drive.Petrol and food prices have come down a little as people have simply had enough and are now buying less petrol and shopping in cheaper shops.They can now see through the was £10 now £5 wine offers etc as false and simply cant afford to have any more money squeezed out of them.Tory backed busineses are why!

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    ""The last time CO2 was regularly above 400ppm was three to five million years ago - before modern humans existed.""
    Doesn't the above contradict this:-
    ""Carbon dioxide is regarded as the most important of the manmade greenhouse gases blamed for raising the temperature on the planet over recent decades.""

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Just over 10 minutes in and already my prediction No. 2 in post 4 is coming true.

    It does not matter how many times you claim there is doubt there is none, only obfuscation by the trillion dollar fossil lobby claiming so to get stupid people on their side.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Tell it to China & USA. They don't seem bothered as long as the GDP is on the up. When they move on this it may be worth us getting serious. Until then measures to combat the rise cost us a fortune as we get pooer and the Co2 still goes through 400ppm. If we used no energy at all in the UK the Co2 world levels would still be rising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    It will be interesting to watch how climate change pans out over my lifetime. There's about a 30 year lag in the relationship between CO2 and temperature so we've still got the worst to go through.

    We still have time to mitigate the worst aspects of CC but we need to act fast to reduce emissions not just slow their growth. It all depends on China, India and America turning away from coal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    we have been paying extra tax on fuel to fix globel warming why has it not been fixed where has the money gone OHH YES fat gets getting rich from it

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    An excuse for yet another tax on the ever diminishing group of idiots who still pay tax (the ones who work 50 hours a week for what they'd get on benefits, but only a tiny fraction of what a tax avoidance lawyer gets).
    The green lobby are doing Osbornes work, he must love them.
    All to avoid maybe having warmer summers and losing a couple of low lying islands (they could come live here anyway)

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I'm not particularly worried about the CO2 levels, to be honest. By the time all the fossil fuels have been depleted, I believe science would have made another breakthrough, allowing a truly plausible alternative, and possibly a way to cleanse the air of CO2.
    Look at how science has evolved in the past 100 years... Now imagine how science will evolve in the next 200 years

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    7 Minutes ago
    CCC says the heating of climate has increased
    but the data says it has stalled 15 or so years ago.
    Whats the agenda here ?

    Perhaps this is it

    You are all being played

    Wake up

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The idea that human scientists can predict what will happen to global climate in the future is almost as absurd as suggesting that mankind can manage the climate to keep it in a static state.

    If there wasn't so much government money at stake, and so many very ordinary intellects with mass produced science degrees stamped onto them, who need jobs, nobody would even care about climate change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    According to some data, the Earth was cooling down in a natural ice age cycle before the industrial revolution called a halt. Maybe our efforts are stopping a really big freeze which would be a lot worse than a controllable heat wave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    The problem is that all of these renewable that the government keep pushing like wind and solar, still leave us heavily dependent on fossil fuels. What we really need is a safe form of nuclear power that is efficient and doesn't produce a lot of waste. Such a thing already exists, it's the molten thorium reactor (LFTR) and could probably be made commercial within a decade, unlike fusion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    You just as well be banging your head against a brick wall. Get rid of Auto and Power generation profiteers and it might just work.
    Another help in reducing CO2 levels, gag the politicians!


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