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The Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Working Group met in Toronto, Canada with a renewed sense of urgency to achieve global reductions of short lived climate pollutants like methane, black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and ground level (tropospheric) ozone. The Working Group meeting took place in conjunction with the Global Methane Forum and Science Policy Dialogue. The Working Group allocated an additional $6 million dollars toward Coalition initiatives.
In opening the working group meeting, Erik Solheim head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), said air pollution and climate change are the biggest environmental threats facing humanity today and that countries must treat it like a global emergency. He called on countries to act and push ambition further by both improving their economies and taking care of the planet at the same time.
“Let’s inspire people to act, because even the smallest change in daily life makes a difference and inspires others. Let’s work closely with the private sector because green business is good business, Mr Solheim said. “Each of us must act today, and act quickly, individually, as nations and in business. Only then will we be able to transform our world and build a better future for all because we simply have no other choice.”
Mr Solheim also encouraged all participants to join the BreatheLife campaign, a Coalition initiative led by the World Health Organization and UN Environment to raise awareness of impacts and solutions to air pollution and near-term warming.
The fourth annual Science Policy Dialogue was held prior to the Working Group meeting and was attended by scientists, experts and policy makers. The discussions centred around three major topics, enhancing ambition on methane mitigation, addressing uncertainties surrounding black carbon emissions, and exploring the maximum benefits pathway approach.
Drew Shindel gave a key note address highlighting the importance of reducing short-lived climate pollutants in order to achieve the 1.5˚C target of the Paris Agreement. Professor Shindell reiterated the short-lived climate pollutants can be reduced with known measures, many at little or negative net social cost. Reducing pollutants that cause near-term warming is also a key component to achieving the Paris Agreement temperature targets and by acting early the world can also achieve important sustainable development benefits.
Shona Pauchari, Scientific Advisory Panel member, outlined a number of sustainable development goals (SDGs) that can be achieved by reducing short-lived climate pollutants. Reductions of tropospheric ozone, for example, directly contributes to SDG 2 (zero hunger) by preventing up to 52 million tonnes of annual crop losses. Some actions have benefits across multiple SDGs. Coalition measures to reduce household energy pollution, for example, benefits health, directly contributing to SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), and also benefits SDG 5 (gender quality) as measures to transition households to modern cooking and lighting fuels can have positive benefits for women and girls in particular, who are most often the most burdened and at risk of injury and ill-health from traditional solid fuels like biomass and coal.
Scientific Advisory Panel member, A.R. Ravishankara, presented the lasted findings on methane. Methane’s warming potential and impact on health, makes reducing it even more important from both a climate and health perspective than previously thought. Without action, anthropogenic methane emissions are expected to increase by more than 35% over 2000 levels by 2030. But he said, there are many potential options available to reduce these emissions.
The main message from scientists to participants was urgent action is needed to reduce the causes of near-term warming if the world is to achieve Paris Agreement’s goal to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that the path taken to reach that goal matters just as much as achieving it. Quickly cutting short-lived climate pollutant emissions now, will not only reduce the rate of temperature rise in the next thirty years, it will also provide numerous benefits to health, livelihoods, food security, development and the environment. Waiting to act will result in millions of avoidable premature deaths from air pollution, increase crop losses, and trigger climate tipping points.
The Coalition ‘Pathway Task team’ showed how countries can, by using Coalition tools like LEAP-IBC, analyse emissions of all air pollutants (including carbon dioxide) in order to understand not just the measures they need to take but can also quantify the different benefits that taking action provides. Daniel Benefor, from Ghana’s Ministry of Environment demonstrated the findings from his country’s analysis.
The multiple benefits approach, Mr Benefor said, allows countries to frame emission reduction policies based on national priorities like improved health, or more efficient energy, while at the same time being able to contribute to international climate and development goals.
The Working Group approved just over $6 million in new funding for Coalition initiatives and activities. This includes $2 million dollars to reduce methane from agriculture, of which up to $1.2 million dollars will go to regional activities in South and South East Asia, East Africa, and Central America in order to identify country needs, raise awareness, and build regional exchange networks. The funds will also help create an enabling environment and enhanced institutional capacity in two countries in order to illustrate how improved emissions assessments and mitigation actions can help countries set ambitious mitigation targets to reduce methane emissions from livestock. $800,000 in funds will go toward reducing methane emissions from paddy rice cultivation by promoting global best practices and increasing private sector investment in low emissions rice farming.
The Heavy-Duty Diesel initiative will receive $700,000 in new funding to help governments build a sustainable path to soot free bus fleets globally. They will work toward securing commitments from public and private financial institution to support soot-free urban bus fleet projects through existing and new funds the partnership, and recruit heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers members in Asia, Europe and North America to increase the number of soot-free options on offer to cities.
The SNAP initiative will receive an additional $1.2 million to continue its support to countries to improve national plans to reduce short-lived climate pollutants. It is hoped that this work will catalyse policies and activities beyond Coalition partnership and independent of Coalition support. The Working Group also set aside $500,000 for small-scale strategic proposals that the steering committee can approve during 2018 in accordance with the Coalition’s approved funding process.
Another $850,000 will go toward work on regional assessments, including the development of a regional assessment for Africa and follow-up work for the Latin America and Caribbean regional assessment and the Global Methane Assessment. The Latin America and Caribbean regional assessment was officially launched during the Global Methane Forum and one of its lead authors, Graciela Raga presented its findings to the Working Group.
Coalition experts and external service providers showcased their solutions and technologies at the first-ever Climate and Clean Air Solutions Marketplace held alongside the Working Group meeting.
Participants were encouraged to help the Coalition promote ambition and innovation in near-term climate mitigation by nominating individuals or organizations that have exemplified the type of work needed to cut short-lived climate pollutants for the 2018 Climate and Clean Air Awards.
Our Expert Assistance is a no-cost service that connects you to an extensive network of professionals for consultation and advice on a range of short-lived climate pollution issues and policies.
Experts will provide guidance on technological options, mitigation measures (like those carried out by our initiatives), funding opportunities, application of measurement tools, and policy development.