Reducing Methane and Soot can Save Lives and Slow Warming, Says Study

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Written By: Emma Websdale

Accelerating actions to decrease short-lived pollutants including soot and methane will help slow down global warming while improving public health and food security, suggests a new report.

622707171According to a new scientific study released by the World Bank this week, reducing short-lived pollutants can slow rapid melting in the cryosphere (areas of snow and ice), including that of the Himalayas.

The report entitled “On Thin Ice: How Cutting Pollution can Slow Warming and Save Lives”, warns that the current unprecedented rate of warming in the cryosphere has the potential to trigger disastrous future threats including loss of drinking water, sea level rise, extreme weather events and greater carbon fluxes into the atmosphere.

By modelling soot and methane reductions over the next two decades, the report found that reductions in these short-lived pollutants would bring “multiple health, crop and ecosystem benefits” while decreasing risks of flooding and water shortages.

The report recommends that rapidly scaling up four existing clean cookstove solutions would offer the greatest reductions in outdoor air pollution, annually saving 1 million lives. Furthermore, a 50% decrease in human induced open field and forest fires would reduce 190,000 annual deaths and reductions in diesel transport and equipment could prevent 340,000 premature deaths from its associated air pollution.

The report cautions that reductions in short-lived climate pollutants should not be made in isolation, but should form part of efforts aimed at reducing all types of greenhouse gases.

“The health of people around the world will improve greatly if we reduce emissions of black carbon and methane. Limiting these emissions also will be an important contributor to the fight against climate change”, said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group. “The damage from indoor cooking smoke alone is horrendous – every year, 4 million people die from exposure to the smoke. With cleaner air, cities will become more productive, food production will increase and children will be healthier.”