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The number of Nationally Determined Contributions — each country’s commitment to climate change mitigation — that explicitly mention short-lived climate pollutants and air pollution has more than doubled since the last round of NDCs, according to a scientific paper published by Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) scientists and partners, demonstrating an increasing awareness and commitment to action on these potent climate forcers.
“We’ve seen significant improvement in the scope and coverage and specificity of actions in these NDCs as well as a much larger emphasis on short-lived climate pollutants and linkages to air quality and development,” said Nathan Borgford-Parnell, Science Affairs Coordinator, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, one of the authors of the paper.
Their research further found a significant increase in the percentage of countries that included methane and HFCs in the NDCs. Nearly 80% of countries included methane and 30% included HFCs in their first NDCs. This increased to 90% and 50% respectively in the latest NDCs.
Moreover, the research demonstrated that a significantly higher percentage of CCAC partner countries addressed SLCPs as compared to countries not part of the Coalition.
“There is a stark difference between CCAC partner countries and non-partner countries. Ninety-six percent of CCAC partners include methane in their latest NDCs as compared to 86 percent of non-partner countries,” said Borgford-Parnell. “The difference is even greater when looking at HFCs: 70 percent of CCAC partners address HFCs as compared to only 43 percent of non-partner countries.”
There is a stark difference between CCAC partner countries and non-partner countries. Ninety-six percent of CCAC partners include methane in their latest NDCs as compared to 86 percent of non-partner countries ... The difference is even greater when looking at HFCs: 70 percent of CCAC partners address HFCs as compared to only 43 percent of non-partner countries.”Nathan Borgford-Parnell
Black carbon, which is not a greenhouse gas, but is a strong climate-forcing particle and air pollutant, was only included in the original NDCs of 3 countries. This increased to 14 countries in the latest round of NDCs, all CCAC Partners.
“These results show the broad impact that the CCAC is having on climate action, both in and outside the Coalition,” said Borgford-Parnell.
Another sign that the CCAC’s work is bearing fruit is that partner countries are quantifying the public health and air quality impacts of their climate activities in their NDCs, including Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire.
This is likely in part due to the CCAC’s national planning work, which gives member countries the opportunity to receive direct support to improve their capacity to integrate air quality and climate planning. Sometimes, this support involves assisting with developing NDCs, and it often involves support with developing greenhouse gas inventories. It also typically involves support with creating the policies and strategies that will feed into, and help countries achieve, the ambitions set out in their NDCs. The CCAC has also provided extensive support to help countries heighten the ambition of their NDCs.
One prominent example of this work is Côte D’Ivoire, which has participated in the CCAC’s national planning activities since it joined the coalition in 2013. In 2020, the country participated in the NDC Partnership Climate Action Enhancement Package with the support of the CCAC which led to an SLCP and greenhouse gas mitigation analysis that helped the country assess the mitigation potential of various policies and plans, and assess which sectors to focus on. This work led to an integrated greenhouse gas and SLCP assessment that informed Côte d’Ivoire’s revised NDC. By assessing 34 mitigation measures in 12 priority sectors, they determined the country could reduce black carbon by 57 percent, methane by 36 percent, and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) by 20 percent — all by 2030. The scale of these potential ambitions meant Cote D’Ivoire could consider carbon neutrality in 2030 and 2050.
Another example is Mali, which has been a member country since 2014. Mali received national planning funds to develop an SLCP emission inventory and a mitigation assessment. In 2019, with the support of the CCAC, Mali developed its first National Emission Inventory of SLCPs. In 2021 Mali submitted its updated NDC which increased its ambition for action and included specific mitigation measures for methane, black carbon, and HFCs.
These successes are likely in part because of the CCAC’s work as an effective communicator and advocate when it comes to the importance of short-lived climate pollutant mitigation — helping to put climate forcers on the map, and then integrate the value of their mitigation into national governments, and across multilateral organisations. This work has included distributing clear guidance for inclusion of SLCPs in NDCs, as well as building connections with the broader scientific community about the importance of SLCPs in scientific literature — including the last report of the IPCC which includes a chapter on short-lived climate pollutants for the first time.
The CCAC will continue to support countries in improving their ambition but its focus will increasingly turn to implementation, as the need for action becomes ever more urgent. In 2024 is the global stock take of NDCs, which means the next year is a vital period for countries to assess what they’ve done so far and scaling up action towards their commitments.
“There’s always room for countries to expand their coverage of pollutants, to increase their ambition of mitigation but the focus at least for the rest of this decade needs to be on how to translate commitments into implementation, as much as improving the mitigation commitments,” said Borgford-Parnell.
The CCAC’s ongoing support will include supporting member countries to develop methane action plans linked to their NDC commitment. It will also include supporting countries to solidify and improve their monitoring, reporting, and evaluation, to ensure that they can accurately measure the impact of their climate actions for years to come.
“The CCAC has supported member countries to set ambitious and enterprising intentions to reduce their short-lived climate pollutants. Now, it is time to continue that support as countries transition to implementing these goals. Proper monitoring, reporting, and evaluation will be a paramount skill for countries to hone and implement to ensure that our climate and clean air ambitions become reality,” said Seraphine Haeussling, Programme Manager, CCAC.
The CCAC has supported member countries to set ambitious and enterprising intentions to reduce their short-lived climate pollutants. Now, it is time to continue that support as countries transition to implementing these goals. Proper monitoring, reporting, and evaluation will be a paramount skill for countries to hone and implement to ensure that our climate and clean air ambitions become reality."Seraphine Haeussling
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