ARB Research Seminar

This page updated July 16, 2013

Tackling Air Pollution and Climate Change: A Bumpy Road Towards the Common Good

Frank Raes, Ph.D., Joint Research Center European Commission and California Institute of Technology

June 10, 2009
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA



The Joint Research Center (JRC) have developed scenarios for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants between 2000 and 2050, scenarios that are considered realistic by policy makers in Europe. We studied their effect on climate and air quality based on two types of models: the Global Circulation Model ECHAM5 (GCM) and the Chemical Transport Model TM5 (CTM).

The GCM calculations show how increasing GHG concentrations between 2000 and 2030 (expected without any climate policy) result in a global mean equilibrium temperature increase of 1.20 C. The combined effect of increasing GHGs and decreasing aerosols (expected from air pollution abatement) leads an increase of  2.18 C, and to more than 4 C in vast regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Global precipitation is also predicted to increase. The rate of global mean temperature increase goes from the present 0.2 C/decade to nearly 0.4 C/decade for the two-three decades to come

With the CTM calculations, we look at the effect of air pollution abatement and greenhouse gas reduction policies. Climate Change policies (e.g. energy efficiency, renewable energies, etc …) have clear co-benefits for air pollution, e.g. reduction of aerosols. However, that reduction of aerosols might largely offset the decrease in radiative forcing obtained by reducing greenhouse gases until at least 2030.

Climate policies must be implemented tomorrow, in order to stabilize climate in the long term. However, one can expect a faster global warming in the short-term. It is therefore important to stress and communicate the short-term co-benefits of climate policies for air quality, energy security, etc.

Speaker Biography

Frank Raes, Ph.D.,  is head of the Climate Change Unit at the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission. Dr. Raes's scientific work and that of his colleagues at the JRC supports European policy making where his focus is on air pollution and climate change. Dr. Raes studied physics and received his Ph.D. at the University at Ghent (Belgium). After a post-doc at the University of California Los Angeles with Dr. Sheldon Friedlander, Dr. Raes moved to the JRC in Ispra, Italy. Dr. Raes and his group participate with the major European research projects in the fields of atmospheric chemistry and climate, perfoming laboratoty work, field work  and modeling studies. Dr. Raes has over 60 peer reviewed publications and is currently on sabbatical leave at the California Institute of Technology, working with Dr. John Seinfeld.

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