February 05, 2013 00:00
By Pongphon Sarnsamak
Short-lived pollutants key to global warming: experts
South and South East Asian countries need to take urgent action regionally to reduce short-lived climate pollutant which are a leading cause of global warming, a seminar was told yesterday.
“ Each country has to reduce the emission from short-lived climate pollutants,” Hasan Mahmud, Minister of Bangladesh Environment and Forests, said.
He was speaking at a two-day-regional intergovernmental meeting on near-term climate protection and clean air benefits in Asia and the Pacific – organised by the UN Environment Program Regional Office for Asia and Pacific, Climate Change and Clean Air Coalition, the Stockholm Environment Institute, and its alliances.
The meeting, attended by representatives from 19 Asia-Pacific countries, focused on short-lived climate pollutants (SCLPs), which include gases like methane, ozone and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and soot particles in the atmosphere.
These pollutants contribute significantly to global warming and severely impact human health and food security.
This is the first time the SLCP challenge has been discussed at an Asia wide meeting.
It is aimed at raising awareness of the recent UNEP reports on short-lived climate change pollutants and give countries of the region an opportunity to learn about the work of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to cut these pollutants.
It is also aimed at producing guidelines on how countries in Asia-Pacific region can work together to tackle the short-lived climate pollutants issues.
“We need a regional action plan because the emission of climate pollutants may be local but the impact is not local,” Mahmud added.
According to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, SLCPs are agents that have a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere, but have a warming influence on climate.
The main short-lived climate pollutants are carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone, which are the most important contributors to the global greenhouse effect after CO2.
Other short-lived climate pollutants include some hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs are currently present in small quantities in the atmosphere their contribution to climate change is projected to climb to as much as 19 per cent by 2050.
A UNEP study in 2011 found that aggressive action to reduce SLCPs by 2030 could avoid over 2 million premature deaths and annual crop losses of over 30 million tonnes each year, as well as halve the pace of global warming by 2050 and deliver significant regional climate benefits. Cost-effective technologies to deliver the necessary emission reductions are already available internationally.
The study shows that Asia is one region that could most benefit from SLCP mitigation.
“The current situation of air pollution and short-lived climate pollutants in South East Asia is serious,” Young-Woo Park, the UNEP’s regional director and representatives for Asia and the Pacific, said.
“If we don’t act urgently it will have not only an impact on climate change but importantly to people, food and agri-production. That’s why it is important for region,” he added.