African Policy Makers Seek to Reduce Pollution for Clean Air Benefits and Climate Protection

by CCAC secretariat - 20 September, 2012
Policy Makers, Scientists and Practitioners Gather to Set Agenda for Combating Short-Lived Climate Pollutants in Africa

Accra, 20 September 2012 - Today, high-level government officials, policymakers, environmental experts and industrial stakeholders from 15 countries converged in Africa for the first time in order to identify ways to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) from the continent.

SLCPs are substances emitted into the atmosphere as a result of human activities which have impacts on climate change and adverse implications for public health and agricultural productivity. Implementing measures to substantially reduce concentrations of methane, black carbon and tropospheric ozone in the atmosphere would have substantial and immediate health, crop yield and other environmental benefits for Africa. In addition, their reduction, along with reductions in the emissions of many HFCs, would help reduce near-term warming and climate impacts across Africa and globally over the next few decades. At a global scale it is clear that these actions need to be complemented by deep and rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions if global mean temperature increase over the 21st century is to be held below 2°C.Therefore, addressing SLCPs is not an alternative to CO2 reduction but is very important regarding warming over the next few decades.

Hosted by the Environment Ministries of Ghana and Nigeria with support from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), this three-day event addresses the critical need for national actions to address the SLCPs and consequently mitigation of their impacts. Countries participating besides the hosts, Ghana and Nigeria, include Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Malawi, Senegal, Togo and Zimbabwe. "Addressing the issue of SLCPs, will foster achievement of MDGs and their successors, specifically issues of health, food security, municipal waste management, access to cleaner cooking and energy access.'' said Ghana Environment Minister Sherry Ayittey. "Action on SLCPs will help Africans to achieve development goals in a sustainable way, for example, by combatting the negative impact of indoor air pollution, especially on women and children''.

Under the chairmanship of Ms. Bahijjahtu Abubakar of Nigeria and Prof. Youba Sokona of ACPC, participants will explore methods of SLCP reduction for African nations such as promoting best practices and showcasing successful efforts for the reduction of black carbon from cookstoves, oil and gas flaring, and transport, and the reduction of methane emissions from fossil fuel production and from the agricultural and waste sectors. The meeting will also address raising awareness of the SLCP issue in Africa and improving scientific understanding of SLCP impacts and the socio-economic benefits of mitigation strategies, and enhancing and developing the capacity of policy makers to take effective action at both national and regional levels.

It is expected that participants will deliver recommendations for follow-up activities on the African continent and future engagement with the CCAC.



"Nigeria is poised to promote the efforts of the Coalition by targeting SLCPs in the Oil and Gas Sector, reducing Black Carbon by the introduction of a National Clean Cooking Scheme and Clean Energy Transport Scheme and Integrated Methane Capture. We will create wealth, improve health and protect the environment."- MrsHadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigeria.

"The leadership shown by Nigeria and Ghana in bringing together governments and experts from across Africa demonstrates that tackling short lived climate pollutants is a policy priority for the continent. We welcome all countries in Africa and across the globe to join the Coalition's efforts to accelerate action on black carbon, methane and HFCs and to reap the health, environmental and climate benefits of this action." - Kaveh Zahedi, Interim Head of the CCAC Secretariat and Deputy Director UNEP DTIE

"It is increasingly clear that the challenges and solutions of development, air quality, and climate sustainability are deeply intertwined. I salute the efforts of this meeting's Ghanaian and Nigerian hosts, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and all our African partners. I am glad to see us working together to take up climate change solutions that secure benefits for human health, energy and food security, and economic development on the African continent." - Todd Stern, Special Envoy for Climate Change, United States State Department.

About The Climate and Clean Air Coalition

The Clean Air and Climate Coalition (CCAC) was launched in February 2012. The CCAC is a voluntary partnership uniting governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society in the first global effort to treat these pollutants as an urgent and collective challenge.

The Coalition is voluntary, and supported by a small secretariat hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Coalition is government-led and serves as a forum for assessing progress in addressing the challenge of SLCPs and for mobilizing resources to accelerate action for SLCP mitigation. The Coalition also helps to provide funds to help create the necessary enabling environment for action, and leverage greater private sector investment in SLCP mitigation.

Comprised of governments and other stakeholders who are committed to taking action on SLCPs, Coalition partners must be committed to the objectives of the framework, mitigating SLCPs in their own countries and helping others take similar action. Launched by six countries and UNEP last February, the Coalition is growing rapidly. As of August 2012, it has now has close to 30 partners including seventeen nation states from around the world (plus the European Commission), along with non-state partners that include (among others) the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, and the Stockholm Environment Institute.

About Short-lived Climate Pollutants

Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) are agents that have relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere - a few days to a few decades - and a warming influence on climate. The main short lived climate pollutants are black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone, which are the most important contributors to the human enhancement of the global greenhouse effect after CO2. These short-lived climate pollutants are also dangerous air pollutants, with various detrimental impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems.

Black carbon is a major component of soot and is formed from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, wood and biomass. Key sources include emissions from cars and trucks; cookstoves; forest fires and some industrial facilities. It affects the climate by intercepting and absorbing sunlight and darkens snow and ice when deposited, while also influencing cloud formation. It is also a health hazard.

Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that is over 20 times more potent than CO2, and has an atmospheric lifetime of about 12 years. It is produced through natural processes (i.e. the decomposition of plant and animal waste), but is also emitted from many man-made sources, including coal mines, natural gas and oil systems, and landfills. Methane directly influences the climate system and also has indirect impacts on human health and ecosystems, in particular through its role as a precursor of tropospheric ozone.

Other short-lived climate pollutants include some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs are currently present in small quantity in the atmosphere their contribution to climate forcing is projected to climb to as much as 19% of global CO2 emissions by 2050.

According to the 2011 UNEP Near-term Climate Protection and Clean Air Benefits report, fast action on SLCP, in particular black carbon, ground level ozone and methane may help limit near term global temperature rise and significantly increase the chances of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees C, contingent on rapid and sharp reductions in CO2. The focus on reducing SLCP complements but in no way replaces the need to reduce CO2 emissions. SLCPs cannot contribute much to reducing warming beyond the near-term.

There are also numerous public health and food security opportunities above and beyond those linked with tackling climate change. Big cuts in emissions of black carbon will improve respiratory health; reduce hospital admissions and days lost at work due to sickness. Big cuts in ground level ozone could also contribute to reduced crop damage equal to between one to four per cent of the annual global maize, rice, soybean and wheat production.