Global CO2 levels reach new low with all-time high

11 May 2015

Despite efforts to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) production, new figures show that, at 400 parts per million (ppm) in March last year, our planet’s atmosphere is the dirtiest it’s ever been.

The news came after one of the world’s leading authorities on our planet’s environment, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), issued the statistic, stating that “it was only a matter of time”.

According to, its research shows that, since pre-industrial times, our atmosphere has seen CO2 levels rise by 120ppm, with almost half of this happening in the last 35 years.

“Reaching 400 parts per million as a global average is a significant milestone,” said the NOAA statement.

This announcement comes after the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a somewhat promising report in March stating that, for the first time in 40 years, the world’s total carbon emissions had stalled at 32.3bn tonnes for 2014, an almost exact replica of the data from 2013.

80pc reduction in carbon emissions, or bust

However, the NOAA says is does not agree that this stabilisation of carbon emissions does much good for the environment.

“NOAA data shows that the average growth rate of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere from 2012 to 2014 was 2.25 ppm per year, the highest ever recorded over three consecutive years,” the NOAA said.

The first time that 400ppm had been recorded was in the Arctic Circle in 2012 but it is now reaching that level on a global scale for the first time.

Director of the NOAA’s global monitoring division said that drastic action would have to be taken to make a difference: “Elimination of about 80pc of fossil fuel emissions would essentially stop the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but concentrations of carbon dioxide would not start decreasing until even further reductions are made and then it would only do so slowly.”

Carbon emissions image via Shutterstock


Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic