Air pollution: Harmful soot spurs climate-policy action

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Julia Schmale and colleagues rightly call for more policy action on short-lived climate-forcing pollutants (SLCPs) leading up to December's Conference of the Parties in Paris (Nature 515, 335337; 2014). In fact, concerted action is already under way.

An alliance of countries, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (, has made SLCPs a top priority. In November 2014, parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed to negotiate the phasing down of hydrofluorocarbons, one of the most potent SLCPs.

The substantial benefits of cutting these pollutants are now being recognized on many different fronts and in local and international arenas. Soot and other SLCPs kill millions of people and harm crops. Even countries that were once reluctant to adopt costly policies to mitigate climate change now find the political logic for action on SLCPs compelling.

Schmale et al. see tackling SLCPs as requiring new layers of international coordination. We see it differently: as a big opportunity to revitalize climate-change diplomacy, because action against SLCPs is seen by so many countries as being in their own interest.

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  1. University of California San Diego, California, USA.

    • David G. Victor &
    • V. Ramanathan
  2. Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, Washington DC, USA.

    • Durwood Zaelke

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