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World Meteorological Organization: CO2 levels Surged In 2016

GENEVA (CBS NEWS) - The U.N. weather agency warned Monday that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere increased at record-breaking speed last year.

World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said rapid cuts to CO2 (carbon dioxide) and other greenhouse gases are needed to avoid "dangerous temperature increases" by 2100 that would far surpass targets set in the Paris climate accord. Scientists say greenhouse gases are fueling climate change, and the impact is already being felt around the globe.

"We are actually moving in the wrong direction," Taalas said.

climate change - environment
An area in the Uppards called Canaan where erosion has taken away what was once a settlement area with homes in Tangier, Virginia. (credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

The latest WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, released Monday, said a strong El Niño event and human activity contributed to the increase of CO2 concentrations to more than 403 parts per million last year, up from 400 in 2015.

The report notes that temperatures in strong El Niño years are typically warmer than average "and 2016's temperatures are consistent with that pattern." BBC News reports El Niño also impacts the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by causing droughts that cut the ability of plants and trees to absorb CO2.

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