Shared Knowledge

Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan on ‘Extreme Vulnerability of the Himalayan-Tibetan Region to Global Warming and Air Pollution’ at an ICIMOD Knowledge Forum 

Prof Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor of Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California in San Diego, USA, gave a presentation on ‘The Extreme Vulnerability of the Himalayan-Tibetan Region to Global Warming and Air Pollution’’ at an ICIMOD Knowledge Forum on 22 March 2011.

Prof Ramanathan explained how carbon particles from incomplete burning have contributed to formation of atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs) across the region. Sources include burning of biomass for cooking and heating; vehicle exhaust, especially diesel; factory chimneys; and forest fires. ABCs are contributing to overall warming of the atmosphere, melting of the glaciers, reduced sunlight, and increased heavy rainfall with less rain overall.

The global temperature increase can be limited to 2o Celsius through a combination of measures: reduce CO2 by 50% by 2050; reduce short-lived warming agents including black carbon by 30% in the next 30 years; and thus buy about 30 years for developing transformational technologies for energy development. Around 60% of black carbon emissions can be prevented, this requires local action. However, temperature increase in the Himalayan region will still be higher than the global average.

In conclusion, he noted that the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau region can’t wait for world governments to agree to a binding roadmap. He urged everyone to think globally, assess regionally, and act locally, and seek integrated solutions through innovations in science, technology, policy, politics, institutions, and finance.

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