Brick kiln production is responsible for air pollution in many cities of the world. Credit: UNEP

4 February 2013 ? Officials from 19 Asian countries today began a series of discussions to catalyze action to reduce the impact of air pollutants in the Asia-Pacific region as part of a United Nations-backed meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

The meeting will focus on the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are responsible for a substantial portion of global warming and have detrimental effects on human health, agriculture and ecosystems.

According to a study released in 2011 by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), aggressive action to reduce SLCPs by 2030 could avoid 2 million premature deaths and annual crop losses of over 30 million tons each year. It would also help to slow down global warming by 2050 and deliver significant climate benefits at a regional level.

The study also shows that Asia is one of the regions that could benefit the most from SLCP reduction, as black carbon measures targeting the transport sector would significantly improve air quality, and reducing methane emissions from coal mines would benefit crops. Mitigating SLCP levels would also slow the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas and reduce disruption of the South Asian monsoon.

The meeting, which is hosted by UNEP, Bangladesh and Japan and is being held under the auspices of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), marks the first time that the challenge of SLCPs has been tackled collectively at an Asia-wide meeting.

The CCAC is a voluntary global effort bringing together 28 partner countries, inter-governmental organizations, representatives of the civil society and the private sector that is spearheading action on SLCPs.

?We look forward to welcoming all countries in Asia and the Pacific into the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to scale up the work and join forces with the other partners in this effort to address the challenge of short-lived climate pollutants and deliver rapid and multiple public health, food and energy security, as well as near-term climate benefits,? said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

During the meeting, governments and officials will discuss existing measures that can be quickly taken up and integrated into strategies for economic development and environment protection.

The meeting was part of the Fourth Governmental Meeting on Urban Air Quality in Asia, held every two years and organized by UNEP and Clean Air Asia to inform governments on developments in urban air quality management and to harmonize approaches between Asian countries in tackling urban air pollution.

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