According to the WMO, carbon dioxide levels remained steady at 400 parts per million during 2015 thanks to a strong, naturally occurring El Niño that affected our climate and hastened global warming. That’s in line with the monitoring station at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, which uses a variety of science-based methods to measure carbon dioxide (CO2) levels across the globe.

The worldwide average of CO2 went up 2.3 parts per million (ppm) over 2014 levels, a 0.58 percent increase over the previous year. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) also said in its yearly bulletin that CO2 levels have gone up an average of 2.08 ppm per year during the last ten years.

Collectively, CO2 emissions make up the largest chunk of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and President Obama has pledged to “cut emissions 26%-28% by 2025 over 2005 levels” as part of the U.N.-backed Paris Climate Agreement. A large chunk of man-made emissions comes from coal-fired power plants in China and India, two nation states not required to cut emissions until 2030 under the recently ratified climate accord.

El Niño biggest factor

The current increase in CO2 levels is being blamed on the now-dead El Niño that lasted for roughly 15 months throughout 2015 and 2016, causing temperatures to spike worldwide.

Climate alarmists pointed to this as proof of catastrophic global warming, but temperatures are already returning to pre-El Niño levels.

That long-lasting weather phenomenon caused droughts in otherwise tropical regions and reduced the normally abundant carbon sinks like forests, marshes, and vegetation. The rest gets mixed into the atmosphere, oceans, or siphoned off into space.

Of the 400 ppm currently observed, the United Nations estimates that about 35 percent of it is from man-made sources.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that emissions from fossil-fueled power plants are the largest source of man-made greenhouse gases.

With the advent of fracking and natural gas-powered plants, emissions have dramatically fallen across many states despite a global increase. That’s because CO2 mixes well into the atmosphere, a point seemingly lost by the Obama administration as it moves to curtail power plant emissions using the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP).

Obama’s climate legacy

The CPP, part of Obama’s climate change legacy, would force the shuttering of mainly coal-fired power plants even though most of them currently emit little CO2, methane, and ozone-producing gases. The Supreme Court issued an unprecedented ‘stay’ forcing the CPP to be put on hold until 28 states and industry have a chance to litigate its legality.

The EIA said CO2 levels can change depending "largely on a mix of weather, energy sources, and economic factors—as well as potential changes in national and state policies." Colder weather means more consumers using fossil fuels to stay warm and that results in higher CO2 emissions.

With numerous coal-fired plants already shuttered and more being closed for not meeting stringent EPA regulations, energy-producing companies are relying more heavily on natural gas to produce electricity.

The monitoring station in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, run by NOAA and Scripps Oceanography, estimates that CO2 levels will remain above 400 ppm for many years to come and they will not dip to pre-industrial levels for many generations. Of course, that’s dependent on countries finding an alternative fuel source that doesn’t emit CO2 or methane, as studies indicate only a return to the dark ages can avert any computer-modeled warming.