There is a quick way to buy more time to make the switch from fossil fuels to alternatives. Serious reductions in air pollutants like soot and smog bring cleaner air, less asthma/lung disease/heart attacks and could cut warming by 30 per cent. No new technology needed as my article shows, just something like a Green Marshall Plan to bring simple things like $20 clean-burning cooking stove to hundreds of millions of people. (more at Global Alliance for Cookstoves) — Stephen
By Stephen Leahy
BONN, Jun 14, 2011 (IPS) – Clean the air, cool the planet and prevent millions of deaths with fast action on soot and smog, a new report urges.
Air pollutants like black carbon (soot) and ground-level ozone (smog) arise from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass like wood and charcoal.
Nations or regional blocks of nations could decide to put measures into place that quickly improve their air quality, reduce crop losses and shorten lives. And, almost as a side benefit, those efforts would do much to slow the rate of global warming, says the scientific assessment report released at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating session here in Bonn.
“One-third of current global warming is due to emissions of black carbon, methane and ground-level ozone,” said Joseph Alcamo, chief scientist at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
This comprehensive scientific assessment shows that reducing emissions of these pollutants is a powerful adjunct to efforts to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, Alcamo said in a press conference.
If the global community fully implements clean-up measures, it could reduce future climate change by 0.5 degrees C by 2030 to 2040, the report concludes. This is a key ingredient in the extraordinary challenge of keeping global temperatures from rising beyond two degrees C, says report co-author Johan Kuylenstierna, York Centre Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute.
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The scientists behind the assessment, coordinated by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), also point to numerous public health and food security opportunities. Ground-level ozone and fine particles, including black carbon, are linked with premature deaths, primarily heart disease and lung cancer, alongside other illnesses such as bronchitis and low birth weight.
Both ground-level ozone and black carbon can also substantially reduce the growth of crops, trees and other plants. Implementing the measures in the report could avoid annual yield losses of up to 50 million tonnes annually, they estimate.
“The (clean-up) measures to do this all exist and are in use in many places. They need to be implemented very widely in order to get the full climate benefit,” Kuylenstierna told IPS. Continue reading →