(Reuters) – The World Bank said on Tuesday, September 3rd 2013, it was planning “aggressive action” to help developing nations cut emissions of soot and other air pollutants blamed for causing climate change, in a shift also meant to protect human health and aid crop growth.
Of its funding to poor nations, almost 8% – $18 billion from 2007-12 – goes to sectors such as energy, farming, waste and transport that have a potential to cut emissions, the “Integration of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants in World Bank Activities, WorldBank 2013″ report said.
The bank said it would shift policy to insist that such projects in future included a component to curb air pollution. The bank would look for new ways to help, for instance, reduce pollution from public transport, curb methane emissions from rice irrigation, and improve the efficiency of high-polluting cooking stoves and brick kilns.
The focus on short-lived air pollutants is meant to complement efforts to cut carbon dioxide. Cutting short-lived pollutants would also protect human health – six million people worldwide die early every year from air pollution. “First aid for the climate can also be first aid for people’s health,” Norwegian Environment Minister Baard Vegar Soljhell said. Reducing pollutants “can also help rural economies, with current estimates showing the potential to save about 50 million tonnes of crops each year”, the statement said.