Human pollution has had a profound negative effect on ecologies around the world. This pollution comes from toxic emissions such as fine particles, or PM2.5 – and non-toxic emissions, such as greenhouse gases. Over the past several centuries, humans have released more greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere, raising the Earth’s temperature and contributing to climate change.

Benefits Of Environment

In addition to helping to limit global warming, strong reductions in methane, carbon black and ground-level ozone have other key benefits for sustainable development: they protect health and prevent premature death by improving the quality of the air, they prevent millions of tonnes of crop losses each year; and they can prevent the climate from reaching tipping points that can exacerbate long-term climate impacts and make adaptation to climate change more difficult, especially for the poor and most vulnerable. By acting together on climate and air pollution, we have the opportunity to leverage the synergies between the Paris Agreement climate goals and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to improve lives today and limit future global warming.

Reasons Why Climate Change and Toxic Chemicals are Connected

  • Higher temperatures can allow certain chemicals to vaporize more easily and enter the air we breathe.
  • Hurricanes, fires, etc. can result in the release of toxic chemicals into the air when homes burn, or as factories in the Gulf region are damaged or destroyed.
  • Volatile organic compounds released by chemical products contribute to the production of smog, leading to poor air quality which can negatively impact the lungs or exacerbate respiratory diseases such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease.

What Can We Do

Between climate change and toxic chemicals, it could be easy to push toxic chemicals to the side as a someday problem and choose to tackle climate change first. But the truth is that the impacts of toxic chemicals are real and happening today and will only get worse in a warming world. These two issues are connected and influence each other’s outcomes. Climate change can have a big impact on the world, but caring about toxic chemicals can reduce the negative consequences that climate change will have on chemicals, and consequently on us.

IASS research 

  • Air Quality Modelling For Policy Advice: does basic scientific research to understand the effects of emission sources on ambient levels of air pollution and its associated impacts.
  • ClimAct examines the potentials and limits of an integrated approach to air quality and climate in the context of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals, in particular via its participation in and study of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a voluntary transnational partnership that aims to reduce near-term global warming and improve air quality through action on short-lived climate-forcing pollutants.
  • ClimPol conducts research in support of transformations towards more integrated policymaking on climate change and air quality. It focuses on a range of issues relating to air quality in urban areas and explores the connections between air pollution, climate change, and mobility.