DOHA (Qatar) – Six new countries today joined an international effort aimed at fast action on reducing black carbon, methane, some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other short-lived climate pollutants (SCLPs).
The announcement by Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Maldives, the Netherlands and the Republic of Korea brings to almost 50 the number of partners in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) — a voluntary initiative aimed at maximizing the health, agricultural and climate benefits of swift action on SLCPs.
Today, at a ministerial meeting during the UN Climate Convention Conference, partners underlined their commitment to a suite of priority actions, reviewed progress and pledged to re-double efforts to reduce SLCPs.
Fast action on black carbon and methane have the potential to slow a global temperature rise by up to 0.5 degrees C by 2050, reduce air pollution-related deaths by as much as 2.4 million and crop losses by around 30 million tonnes annually.
Scientific assessments indicate that the near-term benefits in places like the Arctic and on glaciers in mountain regions could be even higher.
While HFC emissions currently represent a small fraction of the current total greenhouse gases (less than 1 percent), their warming impact is particularly strong and, if left unchecked, they could account for 7 to 19 percent of CO2 emissions by 2050.
The Coalition, which was launched initially by six founding countries and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in February this year, is already acting on several fronts.
* It is supporting an initial group of 10 major cities including Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, Stockholm, Accra and New York to accelerate methane reductions from landfills and black carbon or ‘soot’ from burning wastes.
* It has joined forces with the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles to reduce black carbon emissions or “smoke” from heavy duty vehicles such as trucks by accelerating the introduction of low-sulphur fuels and tighter emission standards in Asia and Latin America. Through the Green Goods Movement Supply Chain Partnership, the Coalition will initiate market-driven, public-private partnerships designed to accelerate the adoption of emission-reducing and fuel-saving technologies, as well as the adoption of operational strategies in the global freight transportation supply chain.
* Working with leading oil and gas companies to reduce methane and black carbon emissions from flaring and leaks — in doing so the Coalition aims to save fuel losses while tackling the second largest source of man-made methane emissions.
* Developing SLCP action plans in a variety of countries — including work already started in Ghana, Mexico and Bangladesh — to identify “quick win” opportunities to reduce SLCPs.
* Hosting the second International Technology Forum to showcase a range of climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs in order to curb their growth as replacement gases in refrigeration and other kinds of equipment.
* Launching a global awareness-raising campaign to increase political attention and build capacity to mitigate the impacts from SLCP emissions from brick production.
* Establishing a Scientific Advisory Panel of eminent experts to guide the Coalition’s work.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “Fast action on SLCPs is not an alternative to urgent action under the UN Climate Convention process-without serious and significant cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) now and in the future, the world will be unable to keep a global temperature rise this century under 2 degrees C”.
“Swiftly reducing SLCPs does, however, represent a supportive and additional action with near-term benefits that need to happen anyway — indeed for the human health and food security benefits alone, set aside the climate ones, nations need to be acting if they are serious about a transition to an inclusive Green Economy and realizing sustainable development,” he added.
Any activities that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, including SLCPs, can be part of the solution. However, action on SLCPs must be complemented by deep and rapid cuts in CO2 if global mean temperature increase over the 21st century is to be held below 2 degrees C.
Additional Quotes by Partners:
Hiroyuki Nagahama, Minister of the Environment, Japan: “Japan fully endorses the framework for the Coalition and meaningful actions focused on SLCPs that aims to realize co-benefit between climate change and air pollution. Japan is advancing its international cooperation related to SLCPs such as through co-benefit projects in Asia which address both global warming and air pollution.”
Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigeria: “Nigeria is focused on developing her economy with minimal ecological footprint and we are setting priorities at achieving zero flare in the oil and gas sector, reducing black carbon from cooking with wood fuels, waste burning and diesel engines as well as methane from the agricultural sector. We will reduce the emission of SLCPs from all sectors in Nigeria for the health of our people, protect the environment and create green jobs.”
Todd Stern, United States Special Envoy for Climate Change: “I’m encouraged by the strong growth of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition since our founding less than 10 months ago. We started with 6 country partners; we now have 25 plus the European Commission and key non-state partners like the UN Environment Programme and the World Bank. Today, we gathered together to redouble our efforts to quickly reduce short-lived climate pollutants. Working together — countries, international organizations, businesses and NGOs — we can achieve substantial near-term climate benefits, save lives and improve crop yields, all in a way that fully complements the aggressive action we all need to take on CO2.”
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action: “To further increase the European Union’s ambition between now and 2020, and in line with the Coalition’s initiative on HFCs, the European Commission recently proposed legislation that would reduce sales of these powerful greenhouse gases in the EU by almost 80%. This would save the equivalent of 625 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030. By demonstrating that suitable, safe and energy-efficient alternatives to these pollutants are already available and affordable in many sectors, this bold step aims to encourage others to take similar measures.”
Helen Clark, United Nations Development Programme Administrator: “To tackle climate change, the whole world must develop differently and that requires engaged citizens and bold leadership, willing and able to take on entrenched interests and leave behind failed models. As the actions of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition build momentum, UNDP looks forward to being part of the united effort with the Coalition partners to try new approaches and achieve widespread benefits for sustainable human development”.
Lena Ek, Minister for the Environment, Sweden: “The best researchers in the field have joined our Scientific Advisory Panel whose task is to ensure that what we do has a scientific basis.”
Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment, Canada: “Taking action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants strengthens the global effort to make near-term progress on climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. By extending our efforts in complementary fora such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), we are tackling global climate goals that can improve the health of millions of citizens around the world. Canada is proud to be a founding member of the CCAC and is encouraged by today’s announcement of six additional country partners.”
Mark Dreyfus QC, Australia’s Vice Minister, Ministry of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency: “Australia is committed to taking action to reduce short-lived climate pollution. The science suggests that acting quickly to reduce SLCPs, which have a strong warming impact, has the potential to slow down warming by 2050. Tackling these pollutants is also beneficial to human health, air quality, crop yields and ecosystems”.
Jochen Flasbarth, President of the Federal Environment Agency, Germany: “Germany fully supports the CCAC and the common target to reduce significantly short-lived climate pollutants. We believe that activities under the CCAC can play an important role by helping increase mitigation ambition before 2020 on our way to a new climate treaty under the UNFCCC.”
Pam Pearson, Director and Founder, International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI): “Climate change is impacting cryosphere regions such as the Himalayas and the Arctic far more quickly than researchers anticipated even a few years ago. If we are to maintain even portions of these regions in the face of rapid climate change, we need tools for immediately slowing down global and regional warming, while also working urgently on CO2. Reductions of SLCPs offer the only real opportunity to achieve this. The CCAC provides a platform to intensify these actions, for example, on domestic wood burning and agricultural burning in Arctic nations, where ICCI is working today to have immediate positive impacts for Arctic sea ice and glaciers.”
Frederic Hauge, Founder and President of the Bellona Foundation: “Reducing the emissions of methane and black carbon affecting the Arctic is precarious. The Bellona Foundation is determined to use our 26 years of experience in the Arctic to reduce flaring and methane leaks from oil and gas infrastructure in the region.”
Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD): “The Coalition has the potential to be the catalyst for cutting the rate of climate change in half for the next 30 to 40 years, while saving millions of lives a year and preventing significant crop losses.”
Romina Picolotti, President of CEDHA, former Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina: “If you want better quality in the air that you breathe, if you want to make a substantive contribute to avoid further global warming, if you want to improve your crop production, if you want to avoid premature deaths of children and woman, then work on reducing SLCPs. Reducing SLCPs could cut the current rate of global warming by half, the rate of warming in the Arctic by two-thirds, and the rate of warming over the elevated regions of the Himalayas and Tibet by at least half over the next 30 to 40 years. Slowing the rate of climate change and reducing near-term impacts have the potential to provide global benefits for climate, crops and health.