Link efforts on air quality and climate – scientists

As world leaders meet in Poland to discuss climate change, scientists from the UK Met Office's weather-mapping Hadley Centre are calling for more joined up thinking on greenhouse gases and air quality.

According to current models almost a fifth of the world’s population will be exposed to ozone levels well above the World Health Organization recommended safe level by the end of this century.

Hadley Centre predictions suggest large year-round increases in ozone, representing more than a threefold increase in the percentage of population affected.

Many scientists believe that some greenhouse gases and aerosols linked to climate change are also linked to air quality and human health.

For example, ozone contributes to global warming and is also a powerful respiratory irritant in levels frequently observed in urban areas.

New scientific evidence shows much stronger interactions between the carbon cycle, low-level ozone and atmospheric aerosols than previously thought, strengthening evidence for linking action to curb different types of pollution.

Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said: “This complex cycle means that increased carbon dioxide reduces the removal of ozone by plants during the growing season, resulting in higher atmospheric ozone concentrations.

“High levels of ozone poison plants and reduce the rate of photosynthesis which, in turn, reduces the absorption of CO2 by plants, leading to increased global warming.”

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie