Reducing air pollution could be a ‘natural climate solution’

Reducing air pollution could allow plants to grow faster and capture more carbon dioxide (CO2), according to researchers at the University of Exeter. 

Researchers at the University of Exeter have suggested that by cutting emissions of ozone-forming gases, it could offer a ‘unique opportunity’ to create a ‘natural climate solution.’ 

Nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and methane all combine in the atmosphere to form ozone and increased ozone in the earth’s atmosphere is known to limit photosynthesis which as a result, reduces a plants ability to grow. 

The authors of the study have suggested that by reducing emissions by 50% from the seven largest human-made sources, such as transport and energy production, it will reduce ozone, thus helping plants to grow which could lead to negative carbon emissions. 

Professor Nadine Unger, from the University of Exeter, said: ‘Ecosystems on land currently slow global warming by storing about 30% of our carbon dioxide emissions every year.

‘This carbon capture is being undermined by ozone pollution.

‘Reducing air pollutant emissions from road transportation and the energy sector are the most effective mitigation measures for ozone-induced loss of plant productivity.

‘Ozone mitigation is a unique opportunity to contribute to negative carbon emissions, offering a natural climate solution that links fossil fuel emission abatement, air quality and climate.

‘However, achieving these benefits requires ambitious mitigation efforts in multiple sectors.’

Last week, (January 23), Air Quality News reported on the Land-Use report published by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which highlighted that changing the way that land is used will help to mitigate climate change and also improve air pollution. 

In 2017, land use, including agriculture, forestry and peatland accounted for 12% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions but the report says farmers and land managers must do more to reduce emissions.

The CCC said the government should plant more trees, restore peatlands, encourage low-carbon farming and reduce food waste. 

They estimated that by making these recommendations it would deliver £4bn worth of benefits, with greenhouse gas reductions valued at £2.7bn annually and the remaining £1.3bn coming from the recreational benefits of creating new woodland, improved air quality and flood alleviation.

Photo Credit – Pixabay 


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