Climate and air pollution policies not in conflict

Air pollution policies do not jeopardise long-term climate policy goals, according to a recent scientific study. Although reductions in sulphur dioxide could have some warming effects, the impacts are only short-term and will never outweigh climate policy’s cooling effects.

Even stringent air pollution policies would not affect the point at which more energy is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere than reflected back into space. Stringent air pollution policies are effective in reducing sulphur and aerosols, regardless of climate policy, the study says. However, these efforts are boosted by climate policies’ dual benefits. As a result of reduced fossil fuel combustion, air pollution also falls substantially.  The researchers conclude that because air pollution policies do not prevent long-term climate targets being reached, there is no conflict between the two policy areas.

Source: Science for Environment Policy, 30 October 2014
The study: Can air pollutant controls change global warming? Strefler J, Luderer G, Kriegler E, and Meinshausen M. Environmental Science & Policy 41: 33-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2014.04.009.

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