The Science of Air Pollutants as Climate Forcers for Policy

Sunday, 16 February 2014
Grand Ballroom C North (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Paul S. Monks , University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
Air pollution is projected to be the world’s top environmental cause of premature mortality by 2050, ahead of dirty water and lack of sanitation. Climate change is a key environmental issue with major concerns in respect of the increase in global temperature and concomitant direct and indirect impacts. Air quality and climate are often treated as separate science and policy areas. Air quality encompasses the here-and-now of pollutant emissions, atmospheric transformations and their direct effect on human and ecosystem health. Climate change deals with the drivers leading to a warmer world and the consequences of that. These two science and policy issues are inexorably linked via common pollutants, such as ozone (methane) and black carbon.

The talk will look at the new scientific evidence around so-called “short-lived climate forcers” and the growing realisation that a way to meet short-term climate change targets may be through the control of “air quality” pollutants. It will be shown that there is a range of decision space when a holistic approach that considers the linkages between air quality and climate is applied. While there are beneficial solutions to mitigation of both issues, other options include those that could be detrimental to one or both. For these reasons it is important to consider not only the scientific co-benefits and trade-offs (disadvantages) of possible policy measures, but to also consider them in an economic, political and social context