Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Importance of Urgently Addressing SLCPs and GHGs

While we need to reduce all greenhouse gases (GHGs), cutting short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) alone can reduce the rate of global warming in half. Cutting SLCPs could save millions of lives per year and prevent billions of dollars in agricultural losses and reduce Artic warming by two-thirds. As reported in an ENN article, a new World Bank report warns that we must act quickly to cut SLCP. This is the finding of a report titled "Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4C Warmer World Must be Avoided."

“This report should be a wakeup call to the world that we must work harder and faster to combat climate change,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. “Rapid cuts in CO2 emissions are necessary to stabilize long-term temperatures, but in the near-term, aggressively addressing short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and HFCs can provide rapid climate, health, and food security benefits, particularly in the critical vulnerable regions that are already suffering some of the worst impacts of climate change.”

Maintaining a global temperature at or below 2°C above preindustrial levels through the end of the century is essential if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Acting now is essential if we are to slow already accelerating extreme weather events. In addition to reducing GHGs like carbon dioxide, we need to urgently engage quick response strategies to reduce SLCPs.

“Reducing emissions of these short-lived climate forcers is critical for protecting the world’s vulnerable peoples and vulnerable ecosystems,” said Zaelke. “When we talk about sustainable development,” Zaelke added, “this is precisely what we mean. These measures reduce climate change, save lives, provide access to clean energy, and improve food security all at once.”

There is an increasing amount of interest being shown in SLCP, however excluding GHGs from the discussion is ill advised. As NASA's Drew Shindell writes:
"We are concerned about the effect of methane and black carbon primarily because they are exacerbating the threats posed by carbon dioxide...If we eliminated emissions of methane and black carbon, but did nothing about carbon dioxide we would have delayed but not significantly reduce long-term threats posed by climate change. In contrast, if we eliminated carbon dioxide emissions but did nothing about methane and black carbon emissions, threats posed by long-term climate change would be markedly reduced."
As Stanford's Ken Caldeira concludes, we cannot choose SLCPs over GHGs
"...there is no scientific basis on which to decide which impacts of climate change are most important, and we can only conclude that both controls are worthwhile."
© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Related Articles
Study Quantifies the Costs of Climate Change Advocates Action on SLCP
Clinton Working to Cut Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
US Secretary of State at the Green Partnership for Growth
EPA's Carbon Pollution Standard
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Term Climate
New Partners of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition
Six Initiatives from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition
Melting Arctic Ice is Releasing Massive Amounts of Methane
Natural Gas is Not Clean Energy
Primer on CO2 and Other GHGs
Global Warming Exposes Resources
Reduction of Non-CO2 Emissions at COP16

No comments: