Coalition Ministers pledge to reduce the impacts of methane and black carbon on climate and health

by CCAC secretariat - 15 November, 2016
Marrakech Communique released at COP22.

Ministers and officials of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) today committed to fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants in order to rapidly reduce global warming and improve air quality.

In a communiqué released at a High Level Assembly during COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco, Coalition partners noted that effective action on pollutants like methane, black carbon (or soot) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) had strong potential to slow the increasing rate of climate change that has seen 2015 and 2016 as the warmest years on record.

This action would also improve health by reducing indoor and outdoor air pollution that causes up to 6 million premature deaths per year; and secure food supplies and maintain people’s livelihoods by avoiding the 52 million tonnes of crop losses each year.

The High Level Assembly was led by the Environment Ministers of Canada, Catherine McKenna, and Chile, Pablo Badenier Martínez.

Catherine McKenna said Coalition members needed to continue sending the message that reducing these short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) is an important and necessary complement to reducing carbon dioxide. 

“My expectation is that we as a coalition will support specific actions that will bring us closer to achieving the temperature goals of Paris agreement, and in doing so we will have healthier people, we will breathe cleaner air, we’ll enjoy a healthier environment, we’ll have more productive economies and have brighter futures for our kids and grandkids,” Ms McKenna said. “Let’s show the world how this is done.”

Dr Hakima El Haite, Morocco’s Minister of Environment and Climate Champion, said she was proud to be part of the Coalition because it takes real action.

“This coalition has done a lot of exceptional work,” she said. “Here in Morocco we are working with the Coalition to improve household energy by moving away from polluting fuels and toward cleaner and renewable sources. As a Coalition we will also scale up work to reduce emissions from municipal solid waste. These activities transform people’s lives and protect their health. Through the activities outlined in this communique we can have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives.”

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said she hoped the Marrakech Communiqué would raise awareness of the need to reduce SLCPs and that countries would include SLCP reduction measures in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). 

“It is a well-known fact that emissions continue to rise and that current NDCs are not enough to limit temperature increase to as close as 1.5 degrees,” Ms Espinosa said. “According to science reducing SLCPs has the potential to significantly contribute to avoiding global warming by 2050, and half of the black carbon and methane reductions can be achieved through measures that result also in significant cost savings. However, in the current NDCs only a few countries have included SLCPs in their mitigation measures.”

Pablo Badenier Martínez, Chile’s Minister for Environment and CCAC Co-Chair said:

"Chile will indeed include strategies to reduce black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutants in our climate mitigation plans as a necessary complement to achieve both quick climate benefits and very strong health benefits. Together we will bring the commitments we all signed up to in the Marrakesh Communique to the forefront of scaling up the ambition to implement the Paris Agreement."

Reducing Methane and Black Carbon

The Marrakech Communiqué calls on Coalition partners to do more to reduce two key short lived climate pollutants: methane and black carbon (or soot) from the oil and gas and transport sectors. Specific actions include reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, reducing black carbon emissions through cleaner diesel fuels and vehicles, and setting up national black carbon inventories to prioritize actions and track progress.

United States Special Envoy for Climate Change, Jonathan Pershing, said that while methane has the potential to be a bridging fuel in the transition toward cleaner and renewable energy sources, more needs to be done to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.

“Natural gas is a bridge to a low carbon future but if it’s a rickety bridge that leaks methane, why would you take that bridge?” he asked. “The oil and gas sector is an area where we can take immediate and effective action. It is a relatively small sector that we can manage and furthermore it is a domain where there is an economic benefit of action. Natural gas is a commodity that if we capture we can use, providing a return on investment. That’s a rare advantage that we can seize as we move forward.”

Coalition partners are also scaling up work on black carbon, or “soot,” a potent warmer and a major source of air pollution and health concern.

Partners endorsed the Coalition’s Global Strategy to Introduce Low Sulphur Fuels and Cleaner Diesel Vehicles to adopt, maintain, and enforce world-class diesel fuel quality and tailpipe emissions standards for on road light and heavy-duty vehicles. Coalition State Partners also resolved to commence development of or continue to refine black carbon inventories and projections by the end of 2017.

Welcoming Rwanda

Rwanda has become the newest Partner of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. In welcoming Rwanda Ministers and countries recognized the role the Government of Rwanda played in adoption of the Kigali Amendment to Phase-down HFCs and congratulated Rwanda’s Minister for Environment, Dr Vincent Biruta, for his efforts.

“Rwanda is very proud to join and I thank you for warmly welcoming us into the Coalition family. We are happy to add our voice to this important cause,” Dr Biruta said. “I would like to thank all of those who organized to help organize the Kigali Amendment. We could not have achieved such a historic milestone without the commitment and hard work of so many including the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. It is something that we can all be incredibly proud of.”

Rwanda supported the call to action on black carbon.

The Coalition also realised its Annual Report for 2015-2016 at the meeting.

You can download a copy of the CCAC Annual Report 2015-2016 here.

You can find the IISD report and photographs of the Marrakech High Level Assembly here.