At long last, a curbing-air-pollutant-emissions-and-greenhouse-gases focus

For the longest time, it has seemed like, air pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases were thought of in different contexts.

Air pollution is thought of as being associated with poisons (toxic chemicals, toxicants or chemical pollutants) and haze in – or discoloration of – the air and poor – and damage to – health, hospitalizations and premature death, while emissions of greenhouse gases are thought of as being tied to climate change and/or global warming, weather anomalies or extremes such as 100- or 500-year floods and atmospheric rivers, reduced snow packs, droughts, sea-level rise and more. It has been as if polluted air and greenhouse gases had only one thing in common and it was that each fall under the “emissions” umbrella, but other than this, these were not in any other way connected.

A smoggy New York

My view has always been that the root of anthropogenically-sourced greenhouse gas emissions release is the burning of fossil fuels which, by its very nature and at its most fundamental level, is an air-polluting process. And, it is for this reason alone that the two – human driven air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions – are inextricably intertwined.

It is with the aforementioned in mind that I am elated when it comes to sharing information that has to do with collaborative research that joins together these two elements.

In C40’s “New Research Gives Cities Plans to Tackle GHG Emissions & Air Pollution Simultaneously” press release dated Dec. 4, 2018, it is all spelled out.

The organization writes: “Today [Dec. 4, 2018], C40 is releasing research findings that identify a set of priority actions that cities can take to tackle climate change and air pollution simultaneously, placing the transport, buildings and industry sectors at the top of the list.”

Chamber of Commerce building, downtown

According to C40, based on said research findings, if its member cities, all 96 of them, employ the listed ambitious buildings, clean transport and industry recommended actions along with a carbon-free electric grid, if achieved, yielded would be “an 87% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions, a 49% reduction in PM2.5 levels, 223,000 premature deaths averted and up to $583 billion in economic benefit.”

C40 went on to declare, emphasize, “Cities are already taking decisive action to fight air pollution. Mexico City introduced a self-regulation scheme to reduce industrial emissions; Santiago, Chile is replacing domestic wood burning stoves with cleaner, high-efficiency stoves; Chennai, India is developing a roadmap for implementing electric buses. And many more cities have committed to clean transport, buildings and energy through declarations on fossil-fuel free Green & Healthy Streets, Net Zero Buildings, and 100% renewable energy. This research presents specific actions that will yield significant benefits in both emissions reductions and air quality improvements:

  • In transport, priority actions include: Implementing ambitious walking, cycling and mass transit policy and action; prioritising transit-oriented development; introducing stringent emission standards; policies to support shift to zero tailpipe-emission vehicles; freight optimisation; and introducing zero emission areas.
  • In the buildings sector, priority actions include: Introducing stringent standards for new buildings; retrofitting the building envelope; improving heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and water heating; and lighting, automation and controls.
  • In the industry sector, priority actions include: Industrial operational improvements and energy efficient technologies; emissions capture; fugitive emissions control; and maintenance and monitoring.”

The organization in the release goes on to state that: “Urban air pollution is a global health emergency: a recent WHO report estimates that globally, 630 million children under 5 years old are exposed to unsafe air. This was also a major focus of the first-ever WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health.

WHO is an acronym for World Health Organization.

And then there is this: “‘We are proud to partner with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group on this research which will help connect the dots between climate action, improved air quality, and measurably better health benefits in vulnerable urban communities,’ said Paulette Frank, Worldwide VP of Environmental Health, Safety & Sustainability for Johnson & Johnson.”

And this: “‘Curbing climate change and air pollution are two of the biggest challenges of our time,’ said Duncan Price, BuroHappold Director. ‘The evidence from this study shows the importance of taking ambitious action now to create resilient and healthier cities.’”

I couldn’t agree more.

A best-of-both-worlds approach, finally!

Images: Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (top); California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (2nd); Courtesy of Lynn Biddinger, San Luis Obispo (California) Chamber of Commerce (third); Eric Kounce, Wikimedia Commons (fourth); Wikimedia Commons (bottom)

This post was last revised on Jun. 1, 2020 @ 6:59 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

– Alan Kandel

7 thoughts on “At long last, a curbing-air-pollutant-emissions-and-greenhouse-gases focus”

  1. Yes let’s have a top down “Socialist/Communist” solution to the non-problem of CO2. Let’s take away everybody’s freedom of choice and incentive to improve themselves and their families lifestyles.

    Let’s create massive energy starvation amongst the masses by the policies you propose and cram them all into big boxes in metropolitan areas, limit their access to electricity, heat and cooling with more “Smart Meters.” Let’s force them onto bicycles where they are defenseless in a sea of cars or into buses crammed with mentally ill people.

    Meanwhile the elite at the top of this food chain (the Commie WHO) will continue to accumulate more power, more wealth and live like kings and queens…………Al Bore comes to mind with his hypocritical home in Tennessee that uses as much electricity as a small town, all from the scam called “trading carbon credits.” Some day the serfs will wake up and realize they have been had…………and toss the global warming cult people into the dustbin where they belong.

  2. Alan Kandel – I am wondering what you mean by “haze, poisons and/or toxins in” since “toxins” are poisons made by cells in living things like rattlesnakes, jellyfish, and bees. I don’t think there are any of those in polluted air. What poisons are in the air can correctly be called toxic chemicals, toxicants, or chemical pollutants – but NOT “toxins.”

  3. You write :
    In transport, priority actions include: Implementing ambitious walking, cycling and mass transit policy and action; prioritising transit-oriented development; introducing stringent emission standards; policies to support shift to zero tailpipe-emission vehicles; freight optimisation; and introducing zero emission areas.
    Here is one approach :

    Transport : an Integrated Logistic Plan ?

    • I read the “Transport : an Integrated Logistic Plan ?” via the link provided.

      This is one approach. Could it work? Potentially. Though this approach may not be palatable to a wide number of constituents simply from the standpoint that owning/operating a vehicle (4-wheel and/or 2-wheel) currently has tremendous appeal.

      I am wondering what your thoughts are on universal (across-the-board) autonomous vehicle (AV) operation. I did not see this mentioned anywhere in the text of the referenced “Plan” above. Is this because you do not see promise in AVs? Just curious.

  4. In the “old daze”, before 1990 and the “Climate change”diversion, CO2 was supposed to be the MARKER GAS to indicate the presence of over 200 other toxic gases that occur as a result of the burning process. That way, the toxic gases could be regulated, and politicians would not have to learn chemistry words.

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