Peru hosts First Regional Latin American and Caribbean Conference on SLCPs and Air Pollution

Countries reinforce commitments to cuts emissions of short-lived climate pollutants

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Participants at the first Regional Latin American Conference on SLCPs and Air Pollution, Lima, Peru

Air quality is an urgent issue in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Around 90,000 premature deaths annually are caused by outside air pollution, and 39, 000 people die prematurely each year from illness attributable to indoor air pollution. This, combined with the impact some of the pollutants have on near-term climate change, makes action to improve air quality a political imperative.

71 representatives from 11 Latin American countries discussed strategies and actions to combat the problem at the first Regional Latin American Conference on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) and Air Pollution in Lima, Peru. The main aim of the conference was to identify opportunities for regional collaboration to scale-up efforts, strengthen information sharing among countries, and increase capacity to advance fast action to reduce air pollution and climate change.

Participants shared how they were implementing national activities set out in the Regional Plan of Action on Atmospheric Pollution and reinforced their commitment to cut emissions of SLCPs -including black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluruocarbons (HFCs).

How to access to cleaner fuel (especially low sulfur diesel) and transport options, reduction of methane from the agriculture sector, approaches to engaging the health sector to assess the impact of indoor air pollution, the state of the fossil fuel industry in the region, and information on how to improve access to financing through innovative approaches, were areas where participants developed practical steps forward.

Delia Morales Cuti, Director of the Department of Air Quality, Ministry of Environment of Peru – which hosted the conference, said Peru was developing an action plan that will allow it to identify the emission sources of short-lived climate pollutants.

“This will provide a comprehensive view and enable a cross-sectoral approach to deal with the problem,” Ms Morales Cuti said.  “We will also know the cost of implementation and what it entails in terms public health, because ultimately, people’s health is what the Ministry of Environment protects with such policies.”

Compromiso del Perú en la mitigación de los contaminantes climáticos de vida corta

Compromiso del Perú en la mitigación de los contaminantes climáticos de vida corta
Delia Morales Cuti, Director of the Department of Air Quality, Ministry of Environment of Peru, discusses Peru's actions on air pollution (Video is in Spanish)

The results of the first Integrated Assessment of SLCPs in Latin America and the Caribbean were also presented at the conference.

Latin America and Caribbean contributions toward SLCPs emissions are comparably low at the global level, however the region is highly sensitive to its effects. 80% of the region’s population lives in urban areas and there are cities at very high altitude which affects air quality. It has coastal cities vulnerable to sea level rise and many areas depend on glacial sources for water. The region is also vulnerable to changes in precipitation patterns, extreme weather events, floods and agricultural losses.  

"There is an opportunity to accelerate SLCP leadership in the region with measures that mitigate pollution and are strong drivers for sustainable, strategic, and inclusive economic growth," Graciela Raga, Senior Scientist and Chair of the Assessment, said.

The assessment outlines key sectors where SLCP reductions can be made. For example black carbon emissions can be reduced by over 80% by 2050 by modernizing cook and heating stoves, improving diesel vehicle standards to Euro VI equivalent, putting diesel particulate filters on vehicles, eliminating high emitting vehicles, and enforcing bans on agricultural open burning.

Methane emissions can also be significantly reduced by recovery and use of vented gas in oil and gas production, separation and treatment of biodegradable municipal solid waste, and recovering biogas from livestock manure using anaerobic digestion.

Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the United Nations Environment Programme hosted Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Secretariat, outlined how SLCP reduction contributes to strong, tangible results across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as global climate and environment goals.

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Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the CCAC Secretariat, presenting at the conference.

Ms Molin Valdés discussed how countries can effectively limit future warming to well below 2⁰ Celsius through a ‘two target approach’ by pledging to undertake both short- and long-term mitigation measures as part of their climate plans and policies, reflected in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Such an approach would also help achieve SDGs and other benefits. 

“Reducing near-term warming is important and requires fast action to change technologies or behaviors to make deep cuts in all SLCPs, as indicated in the regional assessment,” Ms Molin Valdés said. “Such reductions would also save many lives and confer great benefits to public health, food security and the provision of sustainable, clean energy for the poor, thereby contributing to the overall sustainable development agenda.”

Key conclusions from the conference include:

  • The Post-Paris Agreement offers a clear opportunity for CCAC countries to enhance interaction between climate change and air quality priorities by influencing the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), working with countries to integrate SLCPs in their NDCs, and leveraging finance through funding mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund
  • The importance of strengthening collaboration between the CCAC and regional initiatives like the Regional Inter-governmental Network on Air Pollution of Latin America and the Caribbean, LEDS Initiative on Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies, and the Global Methane Initiative (GMI).
  • Improving emission inventories across the region will support the identification of priorities for national planning.
  • Countries should focus on implementing measure in the transportation sector, cookstoves and heating, bricks, solid waste management and agricultural burning due to their mitigation potential in the region.
  • The need to improve links with the health community to monitor the health benefits of SLCP reduction, and to create synergies with the CCAC, World Health Organization run Breathe Life Campaign

 

Representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Perú, República Dominicana, Uruguay, and from United States of America and the United Kingdom attended the conference. 44 types of organizations were also represented including ministries, state institutions, academia and research intitutions, and the international development community.

The two- day regional meeting was co-organized by the Ministry of Environment of Peru, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), Swisscontact, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), It was held 5th -6th  May, 2016 in Lima, Peru. A National Workshop on the Peruvian Strategy to mitigate SLCPs was held on the margins of this meeting on 4th May with the participation of 34 representatives from 23 organizations from 7 countries.

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