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Time to Act: To Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

20 May 2014

It is time to act. 


Recent scientific assessments coordinated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have identified a number of “win-win” measures for near term climate protection and clean air benefits (UNEP & WMO 2011; UNEP 2011a, UNEP 2011b). Fast uptake of these cost-effective and readily available measures, which target emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) in key sectors, could bring rapid and multiple benefits for human well-being.

SLCPs, such as black carbon (BC), methane (CH4 ), tropospheric ozone (O3 ), and many hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), have a warming effect on climate, and most of them are also dangerous air pollutants with detrimental impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems. 

These measures are spread across a variety of sectors, from waste management, where CH4 emissions can be harnessed as a source of energy, to transport, where high-emitting vehicles can be eliminated to reduce BC emissions, to industry where new technologies can be phased in to avoid use of HFCs with a high global warming potential (GWP) (see full list of measures on page 20).

“If someone proposed that you could save close to 2.5 million lives annually, cut global crop losses by around 30 million tonnes a year and curb climate change by around half a degree Celsius, what would you do? Act, of course” UNEP’s Executive Director, Achim Steiner, has written. “More than a decade of painstaking science has built a case that cannot be ignored, namely, that swift action on the multiple sources of black carbon, HFCs, and methane can deliver extraordinary benefits in terms of public health, food security and near term climate protection.”

Year of publication: 2014

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