UN aims to forge new way of tracking greenhouse gases
The United Nations (UN) has launched a major effort to try to fill a key gap in the fight against climate change: Standardised, real-time tracking of greenhouse gases. Better ways of measuring planet-warming pollution are vital to responding to the impact on humanity and should help inform better decision-making. The effort aims to standardise the way information is produced, fill in the knowledge gaps on where greenhouse gas emissions end up - and produce much faster and sharper data on how the planet's atmosphere is changing. "Climate change is the most stressing and long-lasting challenge of our time," Hugo Zunker, from the European Union's Copernicus Earth observation programme, told attendees. "Without understanding how the climate is changing and which risks these changes bring, we cannot plan for a climate-resilient and sustainable future." The three major greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. CO2 accounts for around 66 per cent of the warming effect on the climate. The current Global Atmosphere Watch Programme monitors greenhouse gas concentrations from ground-based stations in pristine locations such as Tasmania, Tenerife and Hawaii. However, "at present, there is no comprehensive, timely international exchange of surface and space-based greenhouse gas observations", the WMO said.