Indoor air pollution

Reduce short-lived climate pollutants

Air pollution, climate and health-related side events at COP19

Fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) could slow the rate of global warming while saving millions of lives over the next several decades from outdoor and indoor air pollution – which together now kill more than 6 million people a year.

Mark Edwards – Hard Rain Collection

The potential synergies, described by prominent climate scientists as “win-wins” for both developing and developed countries, are being highlighted by major side events at this year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP-19), taking place 11-22 November in Warsaw, Poland.

Short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon (soot) and methane are responsible for a substantial fraction of global warming as well as air-pollution related deaths and diseases that are an increasingly severe problem in many developing cities—but also persist at worrisome levels in higher income settings. Along with causing air pollution, these pollutants are dangerous for agriculture and ecosystems.

On Saturday, 16 November, a World Health Organization co-sponsored Climate and Health Summit will describe how short-lived climate pollutants, including small and fine particulate pollution (PM10 & PM2.5) as well as ground-level and ozone (O3), also are key factors in tens of millions of cases annually of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and cancers – with major cities around the world well exceeding World Health Organization Air Quality Guidelines. (More about Air Pollution and Health:
Monday, 18 November, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Air Pollutants (CCAC) will highlight the climate, development and health benefits that can be obtained from reducing short-lived climate pollutants. The event, co-sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Government of Norway, and other CCAC partner countries will also review new and existing initiatives for reducing SLCPs from sources such as agricultural and solid waste methane emissions and black carbon emissions from sources such as household biomass stoves and diesel vehicles. The CCAC includes 72 partners including dozens of member states, international organizations such as the World Bank, WHO, and UNDP, and NGOs. (More about SLCPs:

Inefficient use and burning of biomass and fossil fuels for transport, housing, power production, waste disposal and industry cause most SLCP emissions – as part of overall air pollution. Black carbon is a major component of health-harming particulate emissions while methane is a key ingredient in ground-level ozone formation, a contributing factor to asthma illness and deaths.

Since short-lived climate pollutants persist in the atmosphere for weeks or months while CO2 emissions persist for years, significant reductions of SLCP emissions could generate very rapid climate benefits – helping to reduce near-term climate change by as much as 0.5 C before 2050.

Beyond the mitigation of the most health-harmful air pollutants, SLCP reduction would have multiple other near-term health and development benefits. For instance, significantly reducing methane and black carbon emissions could avoid annual crop losses of over 30 million tons annually, according to recent estimates by the United Nations Environment Programme. Reducing SLCPs could also help moderate climate change impacts in many vulnerable regions -- such as elevated snow and ice-covered regions, where black carbon accelerates snow-melt. Finally, reducing black carbon emissions could help mitigate regional disruption of traditional rainfall patterns.

There is wide scientific agreement that actions to reduce SLCPs, however, must still be complemented by immediate deep and persistent cuts in carbon dioxide emissions if temperature increases over the 21st century are to be held below 2°C.

Details of Air Pollution, Climate and Health-related side events at COP 19

Second Climate Change and Health Summit: An Intersectoral Road-Map to 2015.
Side event at COP19
Saturday, 16 November 2013
9 a.m.-17:00
Warsaw Marriott Hotel
Organized by the Global Climate and Health Alliance, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), and the World Health Organization (WHO)

Short-lived climate forcers – the work of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).
Side event at COP19
Monday, 18 November 2013
National Stadium, Gdansk Room
Organized by United Nations Environment Programme, the Government of Norway, and other CCAC partner countries

Health, Agriculture, and Climate Benefits of Reducing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.
Side Event at COP19
Tuesday, 19 November 2013, 13:15—14:45
National Stadium, Torun Room
Organized by Colombia, Bellona Foundation, Earthjustice and Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD) in collaboration with the CCAC

Build Resilience and Reduce Climate Risks to support NAPS – with focus on Food Security and Health.
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
National Stadium, Wroclaw Room
Organized by the World Health Organization in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization, Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

For more information contact:

Elaine Fletcher, World Health Organization, Science Editor: fletchere{at} Keith Collins, CCAC, Communications Officer: kscollins{at}