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Mitigating poverty and climate change: How reducing short-lived climate pollutants can support pro-poor, sustainable development

Reducing emissions of methane, black carbon, and other short-lived climate pollutants is critical to poverty alleviation and development, and provides fast-action solutions to address climate change.

Reducing poverty, improving health and livelihoods, and enhancing the resiliency of vulnerable communities are moral imperatives of our times. Indeed, they are central goals of governments, development agencies and banks, and national and international organizations around the world. However, achieving these goals in the 21st century will be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, if the world fails to address climate change adequately. Although reducing long-lived pollutants such as carbon dioxide is essential for stabilizing the climate system, policies and measures that mitigate black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and other so-called short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), or “super pollutants,” are gaining prominence as a complementary means of significantly reducing the rate of global warming in the near-term and achieving poverty alleviation and development priorities.
 
Using peer-reviewed and “gray” literature, this paper aims to provide an initial review of linkages between SLCP mitigation and development outcomes necessary for reducing poverty. These outcomes include, among others, enhanced food and water security; improved health and productivity; greater livelihood resiliency, particularly in rural communities; creating socio-economic opportunities for women; and access to cleaner sources of energy. This review also examines several specific SLCP-mitigation strategies that are likely relevant for development and aid-oriented organizations and institutions. These measures include: introducing improved cookstoves; intermittent aeration strategies for lower-emissions rice production; conservation agriculture, agroforestry, and other alternatives to crop residue open burning and slash-and-burn agriculture; and strategies that complement efforts to reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (which are used as refrigerants) such as “cool” roofs and more-energy-efficient housing. For each mitigation measure, we assess the potential impacts in a broader development context, highlighting benefits for relevant poverty alleviation objectives, as well as potential barriers and constraints to implementation.

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