Cuts in global carbon dioxide emissions are urgently needed beyond measures to reduce emissions of other global warming pollutants, according to a joint New Zealand-United Kingdom study.
A report by Victoria University and the University of Oxford, coinciding with the latest round of climate change negotiations in Warsaw, looked at the impact of measures to cut emissions of other global warming agents such as methane and soot.
The scientists argued that the impact of reductions in short- lived climate pollutants, such as methane, depended strongly on their timing.
"This research shows that taking action today on emissions of short-lived climate pollutants will have relatively little impact on peak warming, unless carbon dioxide emissions are reduced at the same time," said study co-leader Professor David Frame of Victoria's New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute.
"So action on these other pollutants does not 'buy time' to delay action on carbon dioxide."
The findings had strong policy relevance for countries like New Zealand where agriculture figured largely in emissions profiles, Frame said in a statement Friday.
"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," he said.