Greenhouse gas emissions are growing in LAC as a result of urbanization, economic growth, energy consumption, land use changes and other factors. These changes result in degradation of air quality, both indoors and outdoors. Most of the cities in the region for which data are available have concentrations of particulate matter (PM) above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. LAC region has, however, made progress on the reduction of ozone-depleting substances and the elimination of lead in gasoline.
Urban growth is a major pressure, due mainly to increased energy consumption and transport. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased by 14.18 per cent between 2006 and 2011. The transportation sector represents 35 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 506.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
Agriculture also has a strong effect on emissions of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide emissions from soils, from leaching and runoff, direct emissions, and animal manure, increased by about 29 per cent between 2000 and 2010. The abundance of beef and dairy cattle in the region leads to methane emissions, which grew by 19 per cent between 2000 and 2010.
In LAC, an estimated 100 million people live in areas susceptible to air pollution, mostly in highly populated areas of cities. In 2012, a total of 138,000 deaths in the Americas (low and middle income) were attributed to ambient air pollution and household air pollution.
LAC nations have adopted the Regional Plan of Action on Atmospheric Pollution. The plan, which is the first of its kind in the world, recognizes the importance of the issue of air quality and encourages governments to identify the economic resources needed for the sustainability of the air quality monitoring networks.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is working with governments in the region to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and methane.