Why we need to act now

The actions we take today to reduce short-lived climate pollutants will improve air quality and prevent the worst impacts of climate change within decades

Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) - including black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and tropospheric ozone - are powerful climate forcers with global warming potentials many times that of carbon dioxide.

These pollutants also significantly impact air quality, food, water and economic security for much of the world, both directly through their negative effects on public health, agriculture and ecosystems, and indirectly through their impact on the climate.

The measures and technologies to reduce SLCPs are available today and are practical, technically feasible, and cost-effective. Implementing these measures can bring immediate climate benefits, help achieve many global sustainable development goals (SDGs) and improve the health and livelihoods of millions.

Improving air quality while fighting climate change

Reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions is one of the fastest, most cost-effective strategies to reduce the rate of warming and contributes to global efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Global action on these pollutants will help limit dangerous climate feedback loops and simultaneously deliver important health and economic benefits from reduced air pollution.

Learn how we can do this

Near-term benefits

Delayed efforts to mitigate either carbon dioxide or SLCP emissions will have negative, and potentially irreversible, consequences for global warming, rising sea levels, food security, and public health.

Due to relatively short lifetime of SLCPs in the atmosphere, ranging from a few days to a few decades, reducing their emissions can rapidly slow the rate of global temperature rise, complement efforts to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions and keep warming below 2°C.



Reducing SLCPs provides other significant benefits. These include preventing millions of premature deaths annually, improving food security by avoiding tens-of-millions of tonnes of annual staple crop losses, protecting vital ecosystems and ecosystem services, reducing the risk of dangerous and irreversible climate tipping points, and making significant contributions to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s measures can cut methane emissions by at least 40% and black carbon by up to 70% by 2030, and virtually eliminate (99.5%) high-global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons altogether by 2050 (all compared to 2010 levels).

Photo by H M Shahidul Islam on iStock

Climate benefits

Global action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants can prevent 0.6°C of warming by 2050.

More climate benefits

Cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and short-lived climate pollutants is critical to slow the rate of global warming and achieve the 2°C target set by the Paris Agreement.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C must include deep reductions in all climate-forcing emissions, including short-lived climate pollutants.

Photo by Luzo Reis on iStock

human health Benefits

Reducing short-lived climate pollutants will prevent millions of premature deaths each year from air pollution and climate change.

More health benefits

A warmer climate increases public health challenges like heat-aggravated illnesses, vector borne diseases, and decreased access to safe water and food. Cutting short-lived climate pollutants can slow the rate of warming and lower public health risks.

Short-lived climate pollutants like tropospheric ozone (O3) and black carbon (a component of fine particulate matter or PM2.5) are also dangerous air pollutants. Reducing them will prevent millions of premature deaths each year from air pollution. The biggest benefits will be felt in regions with high pollutant concentrations, with the greatest health benefits expected in Asia.

Photo by Polina Rytova on Unsplash


We can halve global crop losses from short-lived climate pollutants. This would save between US$4 to US$33 billion annually.


More food security benefits

Rising temperatures threaten food security through increases in pests and diseases and more frequent and intense droughts and floods. Heat-stress causes poor yields, or worse, crop failures. Reducing short-lived climate pollutants gives us our best chance to rapidly limit global temperature rise and reduce the risks to food security.

Tropospheric ozone causes around 110 million tonnes in annual losses of the major staple crops: wheat, rice, maize and soybeans. This represents around 4% of the total annual global crop production, and up to 15% in some regions. Reducing methane, an ingredient in the formation of tropospheric ozone, can halve these losses by 2050 and save between US$4 to US$33 billion annually.

Photo by Daniel Mensah Boafo on Unsplash.

Economic benefits

Actions to reduce short-lived climate pollutants can be carried out at no or low cost using existing technologies.


More economic benefits

The impacts of short-lived climate pollutants on public health, ecosystems, and agricultural productivity have economic consequences.

Reducing short-lived climate pollutants can have immediate economic benefits from job creation and increased household income – as well as lasting ancillary benefits from improved public health, reduced poverty and inequality, and lessened climate change impacts.

Global development goals

Actions to reduce short-lived climate pollutants will produce important near-term benefits that will support the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by improving human health and reducing vulnerability, driving economic growth and innovation such as catalyzing improvements in energy efficiency and combatting near-term climate change.

Explore sustainable development benefits