Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are at an all-time high, according to a statement from the United Nations.

"Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surged at a record-breaking speed in 2016," the World Meteorological Organization said.

"Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Nino event," it said.

"Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement," WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

"The numbers don't lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed," the head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said in a statement, responding to the new report. "What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency."

The findings are published in the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the annual flagship report from the UN weather agency.

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