Last year, heat-trapping greenhouse gases reached a new record, surging above the planet’s 2011-2020 average, and has continued so far in 2021, according to a new report published on Monday by the UN weather agency. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin contains a “stark, scientific message” for climate change negotiations at the upcoming UN climate conference, known as COP26, in Glasgow, said Petteri Taalas, head of the UN agency. “At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”, he explained. “We are way off track.” Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2020 was 149 per cent of the pre-industrial level; methane, 262 per cent; and nitrous oxide, 123 per cent as compared to when humans began disrupting the earth’s natural equilibrium in 1750, the Bulletin said. And although the coronavirus-driven economic slowdown sparked a temporary decline in new emissions, it has had no discernible impact on the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases or their growth rates. As emissions continue, so too would rising global temperatures, the report maintained. Moreover, given the long life of CO2, the current temperature level will persist for decades, even if emissions are rapidly reduced to net zero. From intense heat and rainfall to sea-level rise and ocean acidification, rising temperatures will be accompanied by more weather extremes – all with far-reaching socioeconomic impacts. “The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was three to five million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now”, stated the WMO chief. “But there weren’t 7.8 billion people then”, he reminded.