Should we refocus mitigation efforts on methane & black carbon?

As global carbon dioxide emissions rebound strongly after the economic crisis, many are suggesting we should refocus efforts to combat global climate change on emissions of methane or “black carbon” (like the soot particles emitted by wood-fueled cook-stoves). Improving air quality in developing countries would have massive health benefits and could affect the rate of climate change over the next couple of decades, but the impact of today’s methane and soot emissions on the risk of global warming exceeding two degrees is less clear. Oxford scientists were the first to observe that cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide over the entire “anthropocene” are the principal determinant of the risk of dangerous climate change and continue to work with the Met Office and others advising the government on climate change priorities.


Allen, M. R. et al. Warming caused by cumulative carbon emissions towards the trillionth tonne. Nature 458, 1163-1166, doi:10.1038/nature08019 (2009).

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