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Drew Shindell of Duke University analyzed the IPCC special report on 1.5 ℃ and its implications on efforts to reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs). The bottom line message of the report is that climatic impacts are much more extreme at 2 ℃ than at 1.5 ℃. Drew's presentation emphasized the report’s overall message on Non-CO2 mitigation : in pathways limiting global warming to 1.5 ℃, non-CO2 emissions also need to be reduced. Reducing these emissions would require transitions on an unprecedented scale which include technological solutions, behavioral changes and increasing investments in renewable energy options.
An analysis of global emissions pathways limiting warming to 1.5 ℃ shows that methane and black carbon need to be reduced by 35% or more by mid-century relative to 2010 levels. The rate of reduction in nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions is much slower in scenarios where carbon emissions do not decline quickly enough. In these scenarios, the large-scale deployment of Biofuel Energy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) results in an overall increase in the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers.
Other actions required to achieve 1.5 ℃ include deploying more renewables and reducing the share of fossil fuels for both primary and final energy demand. Coal use in electricity generation also has to decline by 75% by 2030 while the share of renewables in the global energy mix expands.
Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses
Efforts to decarbonize the global energy system and actions to reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants are tightly coupled in land and forestry activities. The expansion of forest coverage sink areas to capture residual carbon and the simultaneous increase in the share of land under bio-fuel cultivation diminishes the area of land available for oil, gas and coal production. An increase in the demand for energy crops leads to the conversion of pasture to bio-fuel production. These conversions, coupled with behavioral shifts in consumption, result in an overall decline in the growth rate of methane over time.
Sustainable Development Goals
The report also highlights the trade-offs and synergies between Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate mitigation efforts. SLCP mitigation efforts targeting energy supply and demand are synergistic with multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, SDG 3 on good health and well-being and SDG 9 on infrastructure, sustainable industrialization and innovation. However, major trade-offs exist most notably between ramping up bio-fuel production and achieving the goal of providing access to clean water and sanitation as outlined in SDG 6.
Climate change, air pollution and sustainable development are interlinked. A multiple benefits approach is critical for catalyzing the transformative changes needed to meet this challenge.
Nationally Determined Contributions
Katie Ross of WRI observed that as countries update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), there is an opportunity for them to include SLCP targets. Of the 174 NDCs submitted by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2018, only 8 NDCs include Short-Lived Climate Pollutants both in the coverage of gases and in specific targets and policies. Dan McDougall noted that the CCAC is providing leadership and political will to catalyze action on SLCPs by pushing for the integration of air and climate goals as a way of encouraging countries to increase climate ambition as they enhance their NDCs.