World-Wide Action on Black Carbon, Methane and Other Short-Lived Pollutants Grows as Seven More Countries Join New Coalition

by CCAC secretariat - 24 July, 2012
Progress Towards Fast Cuts in Emissions from Oil and Gas Industry to Brick Kilns Spotlighted at Working Group Meeting

Paris, 24 July 2012 – Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan and the United Kingdom were today announced as new country partners in an international initiative to cut a range of climate-damaging pollutants that also have health and agricultural impacts.

The Stockholm Environment Institute has also become the first research institute to become a partner in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.

It brings to 21 the number of partners which are now part of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants which was launched in February this year.

The Coalition, the secretariat of which is hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), is targeting world-wide emissions of black carbon or ‘soot’, methane and hydroflurocarbons (HFCs).

Fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants can have a direct impact on climate change, with the potential to reduce the warming expected by 2050 by up to 0.5 degrees Celsius.

At the same time, by 2030, such action can prevent millions of premature deaths, and avoid the annual loss of more than 30 million tons of crops.

The Coalition complements actions taken by countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and other actions targeted at carbon dioxide.

The announcement of new national partners (see quotes from the new partners in the notes to editors), several of whom signalled their commitment to join at the last G8 Summit in the United States, came as members of the Coalition today discussed the progress of five international initiatives to accelerate action on these harmful pollutants.

The G8 also commissioned the World Bank, which is partner in the CCAC, to “…prepare a report on ways to integrate reduction of near-term climate pollution into their activities and ask the World Bank to bring together experts from interested countries to evaluate new approaches to financing projects to reduce methane, including through pay-for-performance mechanisms." The outputs will be available in early 2013.

The Initiatives were agreed at the first ministerial of the Coalition held in Stockholm, Sweden in April during the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the first UN Conference on the Human Environment.

Methane Emissions from Municipal Waste
Waste generated world-wide is responsible for an estimated one-third of global methane emissions—a greenhouse gas over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and one linked to the generation of ground level ozone that is not only damaging to crops but human health.

The Coalition is working with the Global Methane Initiative and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which is partnered with the Clinton Climate Initiative, to assist urban areas to cut methane emission from across the waste chain including from landfills and pollution linked with organic waste like food.

The initiative is also planning to assist cities in reducing open burning of municipal waste, which results in harmful black carbon emissions.

A dedicated web-based platform, through which cities world-wide can share experiences, achievements and best practices, will be launched.

At today’s meeting in Paris, the Coalition discussed progress on this initiative, including plans to work with an initial group of up to 10 cities during the next 12 months through measures such as waste inventories, enhanced composting and recycling, landfill management, and comprehensive waste sector planning.

Emissions from Brick Kilns
The manufacture of bricks in developing countries is often linked with significant emissions of toxic fumes including black carbon.

The Coalition is assessing how to assist countries to switch to more efficient and mechanized ‘firing’ technologies.

A recent study in India and Vietnam indicates that modernizing 35,000 old brick kilns in the region could cut black carbon emissions by 40,000 tons equal to 27 million tons of CO2.

Mexico, which has secured close to $1 million from the Global Environment Facility to carry out the first national assessment of SLCPs including those from its estimated 20,000 traditional brick kilns, is planning a Coalition workshop in September to advance action in the region.

The Coalition is also putting in place the awareness raising and knowledge generation needed to fast track demonstration projects.

Reducing Black Carbon Emissions from Heavy Duty Diesel Vehicles and Engines
The Coalition discussed many different methods of reducing black carbon from heavy duty diesel vehicles and engines—emissions that are not only a health risk but contribute to melting in the Arctic. 

The use of low sulphur fuels opens up the possibility of one method - fitting particle or black carbon filters to heavy duty vehicles.  

Efforts under the UNEP-hosted Clean Fuels and Vehicles Partnership, originally established to phase lead out of petrol, are now focused on reducing sulphur levels in transport fuels.  The Coalition is planning to build off of UNEP’s existing sulphur reduction efforts to also tackle black carbon emissions.

Promoting Alternatives to HFCs
HFCs are increasingly being used  as replacements to CFCs in areas such as air conditioners, refrigeration and foams because they have zero impact on the ozone layer--the Earth's shield that filters out dangerous levels of the sun's ultra violet rays.

However studies indicate that some HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases and if these become widespread they could be responsible for emissions equivalent to 3.5 to 8.8 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2eq) - comparable to current annual emissions from the entire global transport system, estimated at around 6-7 Gt annually.

There are many climate-friendlier replacements available and opportunities to reduce HFC emissions through advanced technologies as well as best service practices.

The Coalition is catalysing awareness of the risks and the alternatives. This week it convened a packed meeting of industry and governments in Bangkok, Thailand aimed at fast tracking these aims.

Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry
Venting and leakage from oil and gas systems account for over a fifth of global man-made methane emissions and represent estimated economic losses of $27 billion to over $60 billion a year.

A significant portion of leaks and venting of these losses can be reduced at zero cost with existing technologies and practices. Meanwhile flaring also leads to emissions of black carbon.

Action is underway to address the issue through initiatives such as the Global Methane Initiative, the Natural Gas STAR International program, and the Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) Partnership.

The Coalition is planning to build upon those efforts by working with industry, countries and investors to catalyse accelerated action.


Notes to Editors

Quotes from new partners

"The need to limit short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) has grown. In the Arctic region, in particular, black carbon emissions and deposition must be reduced. Controlling all SLCP emissions will complement international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in order to combat climate change as effectively as possible. Limiting fine particulates will also alleviate health risk ", states Ville Niinistö, Finland's Minister of the Environment.

"The German government is delighted to be a part of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants. Germany has already initiated extensive measures at national and international level to curb these substances. The Coalition can play a key role in achieving this and thus supplement the efforts of international climate policy and other environmental areas such as air quality control and the protection of the ozone layer," according to the Federal Environment Minister of Germany, Peter Altmaier.

Corrado Clini, the Italian Minister of the Environment, said: “Italy is glad to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCP)”.

“Italy recognises the crucial importance of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and believes that the Coalition should complement the efforts needed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in order to address Climate Change”.

“Italy will continue supporting actions and initiatives to reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants and to contribute to combat climate change, improved air quality and the protection of human health in the short-medium term,” added Mr Clini.

United Kingdom
“The UK is delighted to have joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which offers an excellent opportunity for the international community to take action to reduce emissions of pollutants which contribute to climate change as well as impacting human health, the environment and food security,” said a spokesperson from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
The Stockholm Environment Institute sees the CCAC as an important forum focusing on effective action, and committed to achieving tangible results in the near term. “We will support the CCAC wholeheartedly with our expertise and resources touching many aspects of the short-lived climate pollutant agenda. This is an exciting initiative and we must work to ensure its success, showing that countries can come together and take effective action,” said SEI Executive Director, Johan Kuylenstierna.

SEI research has concentrated recently on the related issues of air quality and climate change and has coordinated two influential UNEP assessments on short-lived climate pollutants, focusing on measures that reduce black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone concentrations.

Launch of the Coalition
The Coalition was launched in Washington DC by six countries  and UNEP – Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the USA – by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner.