Some of the substances that negatively impact climate, known as “climate pollutants,” or greenhouse gases (GHGs), remain in the atmosphere for long periods of time. Carbon dioxide (CO2), for example, lasts for decades even a hundred years, so that the CO2 that goes into the atmosphere today will be there still in 2100, and contributing to global warming over the entire period. Other climate pollutants remain for much shorter periods of time, generally days or months, and are called “short-lived climate pollutants” (SLCP). These include methane, black carbon (soot), tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Besides contributing to warmer climates, the SLCPs also constitute air pollution with adverse health effects.
Efforts to control CO2 have been unsuccessful and so many are trying to reach international agreement to reduce or control the short-lived climate pollutants. The rationale is, in part, that GHGs already are having serious impacts on climate in many regions. If we can eliminate methane and other short-lived pollutants that will at least reduce the severest impacts from GHGs in the short-term. And such control over SLCPs will give the international community some more time to reach accord on how to control CO2 over the long-term.
Some further ideas to explore on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
Determine the government’s position, in Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, if any, on reconciling the critical need to control methane, a SLCP, and the projected substantial increases in agricultural production, a major source of methane emissions.
In determining whether to permit fracking on the island of Ireland, are the relevant agencies and Ministers taking into account the amount of methane released from fracking and use of natural gas?
Climate and Clean Air Coalition, “Short-Lived Climate Pollutants,” www.unep.org/ccac/ShortLivedClimatePollutants/tabid/101650/Default.aspx
Irish EPA, “Are the increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases during the industrial era caused by human activities?” www.epa.ie/whatwedo/climate/communicatingclimatescience/frequentlyaskedquestions/answer,27207,en.html
US EPA, “Mitigating Black Carbon” www.epa.gov/blackcarbon/mitigation.html