Climate Change - UNEP Points to Accelerated Opportunities for Action
Significant Cuts in Carbon Dioxide Along With Cuts in Black Carbon and Other Greenhouse Gases Offer Big Boost for Climate, Crops and Human Health
Geneva/Nairobi, 4 September 2009 - Faster action on climate change may be possible if nations combine substantial cuts of carbon dioxide emissions alongside accelerated moves across a suite of other greenhouse gases and pollutants.
Scientists estimate that nearly 50 per cent of the emissions causing global warming in the 21st century are from non-CO2 pollutants ranging from black carbon and low-level ozone to methane and nitrogen compounds.
These 'climate forcers' will add to the warming caused by carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels that have been building up since the Industrial Revolution unless their emissions are also addressed.
Many of these non CO2 gases and pollutants need to be addressed in their own right because of growing concern over their impact on human health, agriculture and ecosystems such as forests.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, pointed out that the time has come for further urgent scientific assessments to determine the precise contribution, impacts and the options for action on 'non-CO2' pollutants.
"There remains some scientific uncertainty about some of these pollutants' precise contribution to global warming. But a growing body of science points to a potentially significant role," he said.
"The international community's over-arching concern must be to seal a convincing deal at the UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen in less than 100 days time-one that puts the world on track towards swift and significant cuts in carbon dioxide while also providing the funding to assist vulnerable countries and communities to adapt," said Mr. Steiner, speaking on the margins of the 3rd World Climate Conference, hosted by the World Meteorological Organisation.
"It is clear that the world must deploy all available means to combat climate change. At this critical juncture, every transformative measure and every substance contributing to climate change should not be overlooked," he added.