You encounter them every day: soot from auto exhaust and burning wood (black carbon), gases that make refrigerators and air conditioners cool (hydrofluorocarbons), natural gas that makes your stove work (methane), and ground-level ozone formed by sunlight and fossil-fuel emissions. Short-live climate pollutants are all around us. And controlling them holds great potential in the fight against climate change.
Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) are so named because they last a relatively short time in the atmosphere, from a few days to a few decades. In contrast, carbon dioxide (CO2) can last centuries. Yet they’re a major contributor to climate change, degrade air quality, and have grave impacts on food security and the health of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, SLCPs are responsible for more than 30 percent of global warming (more recent studies estimate their contribute to be as high as 45 percent).
Effective control of SLCPs could create significant progress in the near-term fight against climate change, buying time to implement long-term solutions. It could also mean better air quality, a reduction in premature deaths from respiratory and heart disease, and improved crop yields.