American researchers say taking simple, inexpensive measures can slow down the ongoing global warming trend and save millions of lives around the world.
Led by Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, the study provided clues to help health improvement and boost agricultural production.
Scientists say cutting down CO2 emissions and controlling methane gas and soot, also known as black carbon, can diminish the speed of global warming, increase global crop yields by up to 135 million metric tons per season and prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year.
While all regions of the world would benefit, many countries in Asia and the Middle East could have the largest portion of health and agricultural gains from emissions reductions.
"We've shown that implementing specific practical emissions reductions chosen to maximize climate benefits would also have important 'win-win' benefits for human health and agriculture," said Shindell.
Black carbon and methane are pollutants that exacerbate climate change and damage human or plant health directly or by leading to ozone formation, he added.
As carbon dioxide forms the primary driver of global warming in long term, limiting black carbon and methane are complementary actions that would have an immediate impact since they circulate out of the atmosphere more quickly, researchers clarified.
Shindell and his team concluded that their recent findings would provide the greatest protection against global warming to Russia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, countries with large areas of snow or ice cover.
Iran, Pakistan and Jordan would also experience the most improvement in agricultural production through focusing on these measures. Southern Asia and the Sahel region of Africa would see the most beneficial changes to precipitation patterns.