Geneva: Countries could speed up their action against climate change if they tackled air pollution as well as carbon dioxide emissions, the UN Environment Programme said on Friday.
UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said there is strong evidence that the world`s climate is changing faster than initially expected, adding to the urgency for concrete measures against global warming.
"It is... becoming clear that the world must also deploy all available means to combat climate change," Steiner said.
"At this critical juncture, every transformative measure and no substance contributing to climate change should be overlooked."
Troubled negotiations on emissions targets in climate change talks are focusing on carbon dioxide, but scientists estimate that nearly 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from other compounds, according to UNEP.
The agency believes that national efforts to control the pollutants -- such as black carbon or soot, low level ozone or smog, methane and nitrogen compounds -- could simultaneously generate health and economic savings as well, and address other environmental concerns.
CO2 cuts and other international steps at the Copenhagen conference in December were the "over-arching concern," Steiner said.
But countries could also take individual action to control air pollution from inefficient burning of wood, coal, diesel engines, methane emissions from agriculture and by tackling deforestation, officials underlined.
"There remains some scientific uncertainty about some of these pollutants` precise contribution to global warming," Steiner acknowledged.
"But a growing body of evidence points to a potentially significant role," he added.
The air pollutants highlighted by UNEP also tend to have a shorter lifespan in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Efforts to tackle them could have a swift impact in reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases, according to scientists.