Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Short-Lived Pollutants and Climate Change

Tackling short-lived pollutants offers big benefits (Options, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis/IIASA, Nov. 2010)
Also discussed here: Climate Change Strategy to Curtail Short-lived Pollutants (Pollution Free Cities, Dec. 15, 2010)
And here: The Impact of Short-Lived Pollutants on Arctic Climate (25 page pdf, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, Norway, Jan. 19, 2009)
And here: Sources and Mitigation Opportunities to Reduce Emissions of Short-term Arctic Climate Forcers (16 page pdf, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, Norway, Nov. 18, 2008)

Today’s review article from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, one of the world’s leading think tanks in futures and modelling research on energy, resource consumption and environment issues for 40 years. The article evaluates the benefits of mitigating the impacts of climate change by reducing emissions of short –lived non CO2 greenhouse gases, such as black carbon particles and nitrous oxide. As these pollutants also have significant health impacts and arise mainly in urban areas from the transportation sector, reductions would not only delay the climate change in the short run, but also have direct health benefits.

Key Quotes:
“Tackling these short-lived climate forcers[black carbon (soot), tropospheric ozone, and methane]..could lead to quickly won benefits ranging from slowing the Arctic ice thaw to improved air quality leading to better health, particularly in developing countries.. reside for much less time in the atmosphere than CO2 yet exert significant warming effects at the regional scale”
“CO2 emissions stay in the atmosphere for over a hundred years..there will be a substantial time lag between measures the world takes today to cut CO2 and their impact on global warming”
“baseline emissions of non-CO2 GHGs will decline by 14 percent between 2005 and 2030”
“non-CO2 GHG emissions ..by 2030 can be reduced by up to 41 percent below the 2005 level through full application of currently available technical mitigation measures..one of the few options to prevent irreversible damage to sensitive ecosystems and changes in rainfall patterns in the near term”
“Although black carbon lasts only up to a few weeks in the atmosphere, its warming potential is about 700 times greater than CO2 during the 100 years following emission. Methane, with its warming effects around 25 times greater than CO2, has an atmospheric lifetime of only 10–12 years”
“If these 15 measures were aggressively implemented by 2030, they could reduce global methane emissions by up to 45 per cent, black carbon emissions by some 70 per cent, and carbon monoxide emissions by 55 per cent below our baseline projections”
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