Efforts to reduce dangerous air and climate pollutants by Latin American and Caribbean countries could reap immediate and long-term benefits for health, food security and the climate according to the first ever Integrated Assessment of Short-lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) for the region.
Short-lived climate pollutants – which include black carbon (or soot), methane, ground level (tropospheric) ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – all have a global warming potential hundreds to thousands times that of carbon dioxide. Black carbon and ozone also seriously impact human and plant health.
“This report recommends concrete measures aimed to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. If countries in the region put in place those measures, they will contribute to maintain the planet´s temperature below the 2˚C threshold set out in the Paris climate agreement.”
Leo Heileman, UN Environment Director for Latin America and the Caribbean
The assessment, developed by 90 authors and led by experts from the region was released this month by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC). It found poor air quality and climate change are already affecting vulnerable populations and environment in the region resulting in premature deaths, crop yield losses, and ecosystem damage.
The report’s key messages:
• Poor air quality and climate change have already affected vulnerable populations and ecosystems in LAC, resulting in premature deaths, crop yield losses and damage to ecosystems.
• Agriculture, transport, domestic and commercial refrigeration are the sectors that product the largest emissions of methane, particulate matter, black carbon, and HFCs.
• Without any action to reduce SLCP missions, the influence of LAC emissions on climate, human health and agriculture will increase significantly by 2050.
• A number of SLCP measures has been identified that, by 2050, has the potential to reduce warming in LAC by up to 0.9 degrees Celsius, premature mortality from PM2.5 by at least 26 per cent annually, and avoid the loss of 3–4 million tonnes of four staple crops each year.
• Efforts and experience on reducing some SLCPs are already in place across LAC and could be scaled up if identified barriers were overcome.
• The implementation of cleaner fuels, more efficient transport systems in LAC cities, will result in more accessibility of the population to jobs and less exposure to pollutants while commuting.
“Many countries in the region are putting measures in place to clean up transport and energy sources already, but it is uneven. Stronger public policies and pollution control can increase the economic incentives, and will maximize the number of benefits for climate action, health, agriculture and sustainable development. Fast action is of essence.”
Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat
Read more here.