Today is “Earth Day”: Time to recall the ambitious goals we have for the reduction of greenhouse gases. It is good to see how prominently the topic of CO2 footprint is covered in the media and in public discussions. In addition, we need to be aware that Black Carbon and tropospheric Ozone, which are usually recognized as air pollutants, are also considered climate pollutants. They belong to the group of “Short-Lived-Climate Pollutants” (SLCPs). Why are they called “short-lived”? Because their atmospheric lifetime is a fraction of that of CO2.
This is both a threat and an opportunity: measures curbing SLCPs generate their impact within weeks, while Methane and CO2 abatement measures require decades, if not centuries. So, by focusing on mitigating air pollution we are tackling a perpetrator that is harming both our health AND our climate. In fact, according to the WHO and UNEP, climate change mitigation will only be possible when SLCPs and CO2 are addressed simultaneously.