Cutting pollution heats up the planet

That’s the unpalatable conclusion reached by scientists poring over the results of China’s decade-long and highly effective “war on pollution”, according to six leading climate experts.

“It’s this Catch-22,” said Patricia Quinn, an atmospheric chemist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), speaking about cleaning up sulphur pollution globally. “We want to clean up our air for air quality purposes but, by doing that, we’re increasing warming.”

They said efforts to improve air quality could actually push the world into catastrophic warming scenarios and irreversible impacts. The Chinese and Indian environment ministries didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the effects of pollution unmasking.which concluded that, without the solar shield of SO2 pollution, the global average temperature would already have risen by 1.6 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Reuters interviewed 12 scientists in total on the phenomenon of unmasking globally, including four who have acted as authors or reviewers of sections on air pollution in IPCC reports. On March 5, 2014, a week after Xi went on a walkabout during another extreme bout of smog in the capital, the government officially declared a war on pollution at the National People’s Congress.

The drop in pollution was accompanied by a leap in warming – the nine years since 2014 have seen national average annual temperatures in China of 10.34C, up more than 0.7C compared with the 2001-2010 period, according to Reuters calculations based on yearly weather reports published by the China Meteorological Administration.

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