A scientific paper recently published by Science shows that a limited number of air quality measures can substantially mitigate global warming and have significant benefits for human health and agriculture. Together with twelve partners from all over the world, including UNEP, NASA and the Stockholm Environment Institute, JRC scientists identified 14 emission control measures that can best help to limit global warming and improve health and food security in the coming decades.
The paper, entitled ‘Simultaneously mitigating near-term climate change and improving human health and food security’, builds on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s (2011) Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone. The Science paper extends this Assessment by providing more detailed climate modelling (in particular identifying detailed precipitation impacts), extending the impact analyses to the national level with more detailed spatial information, and providing more detailed cost-benefit analyses.
It finds that only a small fraction of air quality measures provide substantial warming mitigation, but that if these are immediately applied, in conjunction with measures to reduce carbon dioxide, they can help keep global warming below 2ºC relative to preindustrial levels, mitigate warming in the Arctic and Himalayas, and reduce regional disruption to traditional rainfall patterns. It concluded that such strategies would help prevent up to 5 million annual premature deaths from air pollution, and increase annual crop yields by 30-135 million tonnes. The benefits of methane reductions were estimated at US$700-5,000 per tonne.