Climate change is already transforming the planet.
The past five years were the hottest on record. As temperatures rise, the threats of exceptional global heat, severe wildfires, powerful storms, retreating ice, and rising sea levels are becoming far more likely.
If this trend continues unabated, it will have far-reaching, long-lasting and, in many cases, devastating consequences. Continued warming will accelerate self-reinforcing feedbacks, like the loss of Arctic summer sea ice, causing the planet to warm even faster than it is now. These climate ‘tipping points’ would be irreversible and potentially catastrophic.
Fast action must be taken now to limit these threats. Measures to reduce short-lived climate pollutants can be implemented now and produce quick results. Here are key reasons why reducing them are integral to fast climate action:
Methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon and tropospheric ozone – known as short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – are responsible for nearly half of warming today. They are tens to thousands of times more than powerful carbon dioxide (CO2) at warming the planet.
However, because they are in the atmosphere for a relatively short amount of time – a few days to a few decades – short-lived climate pollutants respond very quickly to reduction efforts. By reducing emissions of these pollutants now, we can rapidly bend the global warming curve in the coming decades.
The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rise this century to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it even further to 1.5°C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
We are on the brink of missing the opportunity to reach these goals. Current commitments to the Paris Agreement will see temperatures rise by 3.2°C this century. Global temperatures have already risen by 1.1°C, and more frequent and extreme climatic events have left families, homes and communities devastated.
Cutting short-lived climate pollutants now can avoid up to 0.6°C of global warming by 2050. The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5˚C found that decisive action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, along with deep cuts to CO2, is essential by 2030 to keep warming to 1.5˚C.
Taking steps to rapidly reduce the rate of warming is necessary to prevent runaway warming and dangerous climate tipping points, like melting Arctic ice, that can exacerbate long-term climate change impacts.
Arctic warming is now increasing at twice the global rate. Reducing short-lived climate pollutants can cut the rate of Arctic warming by up to two-thirds and avoid over 50% of predicted warming in the Arctic by 2050.
These actions can also reduce the rate of sea-level rise by about 20% in the first half of this century. By 2100, cutting both carbon dioxide and short-lived climate pollutants could reduce the rate of sea-level rise by up to 50%, which would give coastal communities and low-lying states time to adapt.
Everyone will be affected by climate change, but some are more vulnerable than others. People living in small island developing states, coastal regions, megacities, and mountainous and polar (cryosphere) regions are particularly vulnerable.
All forms of climate action, especially actions to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, can change lives for the better. The important near-term climate benefits that short-lived climate pollutant mitigation delivers will benefit the poor and most vulnerable who often live on the frontlines of climate change.
Solutions to cut short-lived climate pollutants can be implemented today. All are based on existing technology and can be carried out at no or little cost.
Concerted global efforts to implement these solutions can provide climate and health benefits in a short amount of time. They can cut methane emissions by at least 40% and black carbon by up to 70% by 2030, and virtually eliminate (99.5%) high-global warming potential hydrofluorocarbons by 2050 (all compared to 2010 levels).
Solutions include actions like replacing and properly disposing HFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning; reducing methane from waste (including food waste) and agriculture; reducing black carbon emissions from household cooking, lighting and heating, and from heavy-duty engines in trucks, buses and ships; and reducing methane leaks from oil and gas production.
The Coalition is the only global organisation dedicated to cutting short-lived climate pollutants to stabilize the climate, limit warming to 1.5°C, and drastically reduce air pollution. Our partners are the driving force of this work.
We drive action by testing, implementing and sharing solutions, raising awareness, and engaging with leaders at the highest levels. Our Trust Fund provides resources for technical assistance and capacity building in developing countries, and targeted catalytic actions that transform sectors and reduce their short-lived climate pollutant emissions.