CCAC Working Group 2021: The Coalition gears up for an ambitious decade of action with an increased focus on methane.

The need to significantly reduce methane emissions this decade was at the heart of the Working Group meeting this year, and the U.S. announced it will replace Switzerland as co-chair of the Coalition.

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) has set itself ambitious goals to significantly reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) this decade. As it gears up to launch its 2030 Strategy, its Working Group met to discuss the challenges and opportunities to reduce methane—the fastest growing SLCP. Participants also reviewed and strengthened planned engagement strategies to ensure the Coalition continues to drive action that rapidly reduces the rate of warming and keeps the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5⁰C) within reach.  

Opening the meeting, Janine Kuriger, representing Switzerland as Co-Chair, said: “We are now at an exciting turning point as we transition to the implementation of the CCAC 2030 Strategy. The urgency of action and the relevance of the CCAC’s work is clearer than ever, and so despite not being able to meet in person, this Working Group meeting is an important moment for us to take stock of recent Coalition activities, and review progress on the transition to the new Strategy.”  

Switzerland has co-chaired the Coalition since October 2018 and spearheaded the 2030 Strategy development process with the Co-Chair from Ghana, the Strategy Task Team and CCAC Partners. This collaborative effort led to the successful adoption of the 2030 Strategy in December of 2020.  

Ms. Kuriger said that as the Coalition enters a new chapter, Switzerland would step down as Co-Chair. She announced that the United States (U.S.) would take up the position alongside Ghana.  

“Climate and clean air will certainly remain important topics for Switzerland and we will remain engaged in the transition period and stand ready to continue serving as a Board member,” Ms. Kuriger said.  

Rick Duke, Senior Advisor and White House Liaison for Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, will represent the U.S. as Co-Chair. Mr. Duke thanked Switzerland for their leadership and work to bring the CCAC to its next phase and said that reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) was by far the most powerful fast mitigation strategy to keep warming to 1.5⁰C.  

“The U.S. has been with the CCAC from its beginning in 2012 when SLCPs were not so high on the agenda. Since then, the CCAC has relentlessly defined SLCPs as the core of the fast mitigation strategy needed to combat the climate crisis,” Mr. Duke said.  

“As incoming Co-Chair, the U.S. hopes to build upon the CCAC’s comparative advantage working with governments across all sectors. The ability to quantify the multiple benefits of SLCP reductions and provide a roadmap for policies and measures to unlock these opportunities can be a real gamechanger for countries that are seeking to define and implement ambitious Paris Agreement goals while enhancing their economies and public health, and we want to lean into this.”   

Mr. Duke announced that the U.S. will substantially contribute to the CCAC trust fund this year in line with the level of support the U.S. provided in the Coalition’s first five years. He called on other partners to renew their financial pledges to ensure a strong kick off for CCAC’s 2030 strategy. 

The recently launched CCAC and UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Global Methane Assessment was highlighted by Mr. Duke as an example of how the Coalition continues to use science to set the agenda. The Assessment shows that human-caused methane emissions must be reduced by 45 per cent by this decade to put the world on a safe path to 1.5⁰C.  

“This extraordinary assessment shows that rapid global methane reductions can reduce warming by 2050 by more than 0.2⁰C, and methane represents nearly 1/5 of global greenhouse gas emissions and by far the top priority SLCP that we need to tackle,” Mr. Duke said. “In the near term to keep 1.5⁰C within reach and prevent dangerous warming, deep global methane reductions are as important as carbon dioxide reductions.”  

Mr. Duke said the U.S. was proud of its work with international partners to specifically address methane, including through the CCAC and the Global Methane Initiative (GMI) and would continue to prioritize methane through bilateral climate diplomacy, the CCAC and GMI, and more broadly through the Paris Agreement.  

“Next year, we look forward to working with GMI and CCAC and others to a potential in-person global methane forum. The entire next decade will be a pivotal sprint to addressing mitigation while also ensuring action on other SLCPs including controlling black carbon and strengthening and implementing the Kigali amendment. I am optimistic that together we can meet this challenge,” Mr. Duke said.  

The first day of the working group focused specifically on the challenges and opportunities presented by the Global Methane Assessment. Drew Shindell, Chair of the Coalition’s Scientific Advisory Panel and lead author of the assessment, will serve as CCAC Special Representative for Action on Methane, over the next year while on sabbatical from Duke University where he is Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Earth Science.  

Dr Shindell said he was excited to take on the new role, and that it was time to build on the conclusions of the report and increase what is needed to address methane this year. “We need to turn the science into action by working with you the policy makers,” he said. 

Coalition partners discussed the assessment’s key findings and the scientific and policy strategies to quickly move from its conclusions to action, drawing on specific examples from partner countries. The Global Methane Initiative led a joint session on the tools and empirical evidence for methane policy development, which looked at a web tool developed for the Global Methane Assessment and how empirical studies of policy and good practice can help partners learn what works and supplement hard policy and modelling. Finally, participants looked at the potential current and new satellites can provide to monitor and verify methane emissions data, globally, in real time, and at spatial scales that can identify sources.  

In the week leading up to the Working Group, a series of pre-meetings were held to develop engagement strategies for the Strategic SLCP Planning Hub and Sectoral Hubs that will drive the Coalition’s 2030 Strategy. These discussions presented an important opportunity for partners to have informal and open conversations and freely exchange ideas. These conversations were reported back during the Working Group meeting.  

On the last day partners discussed how to take action on methane and shared ideas on how the Coalition’s can use its niche to help mobilize ambition. There was clear agreement that there was an opportunity to create a Methane Flagship to push on political, policy and communications fronts to reduce methane emissions. Commitments from CCAC State/REIO Partners will be essential to this end. Countries also reported on their national action plans to reduce SLCPs and the existing mechanisms that can support the implementation of the measures. A number of countries supported under the CCAC national action and planning initiative highlighted their recently submitted NDC updates, that increase their climate change mitigation ambition, and consider SLCPs. 

Special announcements from the Working Group included the launch of a 2021 call for proposals to support national action under the CCAC Action Programme to Address the 1.5 C Challenge, and a pledge by Sweden to the CCAC Trust Fund of SEK 3 million.   

The 2021 Working Group will be the last CCAC Working Group before the Coalition transitions to its 2030 Strategy. A Climate and Clean Air Ministerial will be held on the margins of COP 26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, in November 2021. From 2022 onwards the CCAC will host an Annual Meeting to replace the Working Group, bringing together all CCAC Partners and the wider community committed to reducing SLCPs. 

The 2021 Working Group meeting took place online (due to continued COVID-19 restriction) from May 25-27. There were 154 registered participants with an average of 100 participants connecting for the full meeting. 

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Working Group participants.

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