Scientists: Addressing agricultural emissions not enough

By Sophie Barclay

In order to combat climate change we need to focus on both agricultural-related emissions like methane and carbon dioxide.   Photo / Dean Purcell
In order to combat climate change we need to focus on both agricultural-related emissions like methane and carbon dioxide. Photo / Dean Purcell

Climate change: Research co-published by the University of Oxford and Victoria University of Wellington shows that addressing short-lived climate pollutants like methane and soot will have little impact on peak warming episodes unless carbon dioxide is reduced in tandem.

The research, published in Nature Climate Change, re-emphasises the urgency of reducing global carbon dioxide emissions.

According to Professor David Frame, Professor of Climate Change at the NZ Climate Change Research Institute: "The reality is that today's methane emissions matter little for peak warming unless carbon dioxide emissions drop rapidly in the coming decades. As long as carbon dioxide emissions are not falling, methane emissions can have little impact on the overall magnitude of warming."

The results are especially relevant for countries like New Zealand where 'unconventional' green house gases like methane play a huge role in our green house gas profile due to our large agricultural sector.

The warning comes just after the World Meterological Organisation announced that 2013 was on track to be one of the tenth hottest years since records began in 1850. The 19th Conference of the Parties UN Climate Change conference in Poland, held last month, saw countries agreeing to come forward with their 'contributions' to global green house gas emissions by 2015, which they would not need to address until 2020.

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