The world can significantly slow the pace of climate change with practical efforts to control so-called “short-lived climate pollutants” and by bringing successful Western technologies to the developing world, according to three UC San Diego scientists in the journal Foreign Affairs.
For the last two decades global diplomatic talks on climate change have struggled to make progress. Part of the problem, the scientists say, is that diplomacy has focused almost exclusively on carbon dioxide—a pollutant that is expensive and difficult to control.
In the essay “The Climate Threat We Can Beat,” David Victor, political scientist at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies; Scripps Institution of Oceanography Director Emeritus Charles Kennel; and Scripps climate and atmospheric scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan argue that action on short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) would have a better chance for success and would generate swifter benefits in the form of less global warming in the near term, as countries attempt to find equitable methods for controlling carbon dioxide. This new strategy would be particularly attractive to the world’s major emitters of SLCPs —China, the United States and India—that so far have been reluctant to make big promises to control their emissions of carbon dioxide.
Speaking about the new essay, Victor said “Action on soot and ozone can transform the politics of climate change because controlling these pollutants doesn’t just benefit the climate. It also delivers tangible local benefits. Even the governments that are skittish about spending money for global benefits can see real local advantages in this new strategy.”
In February, six countries (including the United States) formed a coalition devoted to promote practical changes that could control emissions of global warming agents such as soot and ozone. The essay applauds that effort but argues that it must expand to include China and India.