Mitigation Scenarios and Pathways

 ©Henrike Doebert / Climate Analytics
©Henrike Doebert / Climate Analytics

Role of Air Pollutants

Apart from carbon dioxide (CO2), the climate system is affected by other substances in the atmosphere with human sources, including non-CO2 greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Air pollutants have a much shorter residence time in the atmosphere than CO2. Long-term goals, like holding warming below 1.5 and 2°C, will be achieved more easily if those substances that have a net warming effect are reduced not too long before the peak in temperature is reached, probably during the second half of the 21st century. We study the extent to which reducing air pollutants can help achieving long-term climate goals.


A pact by almost 200 nations to slash greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners will likely fall short of governments' hopes of averting a full half-degree Celsius (0.9 Fahrenheit) of warming this century, scientists say. Michiel Schaeffer of Climate Analytics estimates "around 0.2 degree Celsius (0.36F) by 2100" of avoided warming.