Acute Climate Change in the Arctic: Fighting Air Pollution May Slow Warming

Thursday, 09 June 2011 11:21

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Arctic Council Climate Report Defines the Challenge

Climate negotiators will discuss two new reports, with major implications for our near-term approach to climate change at a UNFCCC side event in Bonn, this Thursday, June 9. One, the eight-nation Arctic Council’s “SWIPA” (Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic) chronicles the unexpectedly-rapid warming in the Arctic region, resulting in new forecasts for sea level rise three times that believed at the time of the IPCC’s AR-4, in 2007.

The other, UNEP’s Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Ozone, will be previewed at the side event and fully released at a special media event in Bonn on June 14. It demonstrates the role of these two harmful air pollutants not only in harming human health and crops, but also as a major contributor to this unexpectedly rapid climate change, especially in snow-covered regions such as the Arctic, Himalayas and Andes. At the same time, the UNEP Assessment strikes a new note of hope in the climate world by showing that reductions, through common air pollution technologies, could slow this rapid warming, especially if taken in the next two decades. This could avert some of the more dangerous processes that SWIPA documents are already clearly underway there, such as loss of summer sea ice and permafrost melting.

Both studies, which involved hundreds of scientists and extensive peer review, emphasize however the need to begin cutting CO2 and other global greenhouse gases immediately if these air pollution measures are to have any actual positive climate impact.

Incoming Arctic Council Chair Sweden will moderate the event, and COP-16 Chair Mexico will provide commentary on these findings. Both countries are considering leading a global effort to address black carbon and ozone on national, regional and multilateral levels, for example through enhanced financing for climate projects that address the ozone-creating pollutant methane.

WHAT: Leading scientists’ present new data on accelerating melting in polar and alpine regions, as well as potential solutions to a rapidly warming Arctic to UNFCCC. Co-organized by the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

WHERE: Room WIND, Ministry of Environment, Bonn, Germany.

WHEN: Thursday June 9, 20:00-21:00 CET.

- UNEP website (external link)
- AMAP website (external link)
- ICCI website (external link)

For further information, please contact:
UNEP: Nick Nuttall, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel. + 254 733 632 755
SEI: Ylva Rylander
ICCI: Pam Pearson, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , tel. +1 802 488 0991