Global CO2 levels reach historic record

Global CO2 levels reach historic recordGlobal carbon dioxide concentrations have reached a new “benchmark” of 400 parts per million, a level unprecedented in at least a million years, data released this week shows.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the monthly global average concentration of CO2 in March was the highest since scientists began tracking this greenhouse gas in the global atmosphere.

“This marks the fact that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global [CO2] concentrations to rise more than 120 parts per million since pre-industrial times,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.

Carmen Boening, a scientist in the Climate Physics Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory noted that, in theory, levels this high have only been reached during the Pliocene era, when temperatures and sea level were higher.

According to the World Coal Association, coal currently supplies about 30% of the world’s main energy needs and over 40% of its electricity.

However, consumption of the fossil fuel in China — the world’s biggest consumer— is dwindling. The figure fell in 2014 for the first time in 14 years as the nation works towards banning coal use in smog-cloaked Beijing by 2020.

Yet some top coal producers including Glencore (LON:GLEN) — the world’s No. 1 exporter of coal used in power stations— are optimistic about the future of coal.

Last month, chief executive Ivan Glasenberg said governments would fail to implement measures to cut carbon emissions, such as forcing miners keep its reserves in the ground, adding that growing demand for cheap energy would secure demand for fossil fuels.

Noaa collects its data on global carbon dioxide concentration on air samples taken from 40 sites around the world, including some remote islands.