Air quality and climate are often treated as separate science and policy areas. Air quality encompasses the here-and-now of pollutant emissions, atmospheric transformations and their direct effect on human and ecosystem health. Climate change deals with the drivers leading to a warmer world and the consequences of that. These two science and policy issues are inexorably linked via common pollutants, such as ozone (methane) and black carbon. This short review looks at the new scientific evidence around so-called “short-lived climate forcers” and the growing realisation that a way to meet short-term climate change targets may be through the control of “air quality” pollutants. None of the options discussed here can replace reduction of long-lived greenhouse gases, such as CO2, which is required for any long-term climate change mitigation strategy. An overview is given of the underlying science, remaining uncertainties, and some of the synergies and trade-offs for addressing air quality and climate in the science and policy context.
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