Climate gases hit record highs as COP26 sponsors pile on climate pollution levels

Barry White

According to the UN‘s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) the levels of climate heating gases in the atmosphere broke all records in 2020 despite Covid lock-downs. The concentration of carbon dioxide is now 50% higher than before the Industrial Revolution started the mass burning of fossil fuels. Main greenhouse gases grew faster last year than the average for the previous decade, the report found (see: That trend has continued into 2021. Set up in 1950 the WMO is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for promoting international cooperation on atmospheric science, climatology, hydrology and geophysics.

Meanwhile analysis by The Ferret, an award-winning investigative journalism platform for Scotland and beyond, found that the 11 companies selected as “principal partners” of the COP26 caused more greenhouse gas pollution globally in 2020 than was produced across the whole of the UK. The 11 companies had a combined carbon footprint of nearly 350 million tonnes in 2020. They are SSE, ScottishPower, Sky, Sainsbury’s, Unilever, NatWest, National Grid, Microsoft, Hitachi, Reckitt and GlaxoSmithKline (see: .

COP26 partners pointed out they were all signed up to “ambitious” targets to reduce emissions. They highlighted the “considerable reductions” they had already achieved. They also warned that some emissions might be double-counted as firms’ direct and indirect emissions could overlap.

This story is part of a series The Ferret is publishing in the run-up to COP26 in November. Investigations have been supported by the European Climate Foundation, which cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained or expressed therein.

Meanwhile a new and updated UN Emissions Gap report has revealed that we are heading for an average 2.7c temperature increase this century unless countries strengthen their climate pledges. It warns that with the current pledges, carbon would only be reduced by around 7.5% by 2030 against the 45% that is needed to limit global rises by 1.5c. The report can be found at:



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