Effort to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Brings Hope to Climate Negotiations
Growing global network for fast climate mitigation is bright spot in otherwise discouraging discussions Special attention being given to HFC refrigerants
Warsaw, Poland, 21 November - Amid a desultory UN climate negotiation session in Warsaw this week and last—the 19th Meeting of the Parties—one strategy emerged with wide-spread support. The strategy can cut the rate of climate change in half through 2050, and can open the door for more ambitious mitigation by all countries, including mitigation of long-lived carbon dioxide.
The strategy is to reduce "short-lived climate pollutants", or SLCPs, which include black carbon soot, tropospheric ozone, the major component of smog, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, used primarily as refrigerants.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) concluded its High-Level Assembly today, as dozens of ministers and other senior climate officials took a break from the climate negotiations, where there were more walk-outs than agreements, to join one another in pledging to expand their fast-action climate mitigation agenda, to undertake new mitigation actions, and to provide new funding to implement the efforts to deliver immediate climate protection.
"Many efforts talk about what should be done, but the CCAC just does it," said Romina Picolotti, former Secretary of the Environment for Argentina and President of the Centre for Human Rights and Environment. "The CCAC's fast-action approach is a model the world needs to pay close attention to.”
Ministers and other leaders of 42 countries and organizations of the CCAC celebrated their successes and pledged to enhance further fast-action to reduce SLCPs. The CCAC's 10 action-oriented initiatives are tackling many of the leading causes of near-term climate change, while also preventing premature deaths and crop damage. Morocco and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development attended as observers.
Durng the meeting, the United States and Sweden pledged to provide funding next year for a new methane pay-for-performance fund managed by the World Bank. Germany also announced support for the fund and suggested it be enlarged it to include HFCs. The GEF also pleadged to increase support for SLCPs.
The CCAC is the only international organization dedicated to reducing SLCPs, and the only international organization implementing a fast-action agenda to produce climate mitigation and reduce current impacts, in advance of the 2015 deadline for a new climate treaty that the UN climate negotiators hope to produce by COP 21 in Paris, to go into effect by 2020.
"The strategy to reduce SLCPs is one the most important development in climate policy in the last several years, providing fast results rather than slow rhetoric," said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, from Warsaw. "The SLCP strategies recognize that climate change is a not one monolithic problem but rather a package that can be unpacked, with some pieces ready to be solved immediately, including the SLCPs, using existing technologies and existing laws and institutions in most cases."
One of the SLCPs, HFCs, is receiving extra attention in Warsaw, where the 19th year of climate negotiations is continuing the tectonic process where all issues are clumped and tend to move together—or more often fail to move together. The HFCs have emerged as a signature issue with three key benefits: pre-2020 mitigation of HFCs can help close the emissions gap that remains after the Copenhagen Pledges, HFCs can provide much larger long-term mitigation through 2050 and even 2100, where they can avoid up to 0.5C of warming, and success with HFCs can provide critical political momentum for COP 21 in Paris in 2015 by showing the value of concrete action.
During the current two-week negotiating session in Warsaw there have been at least 17 events focusing on SLCPs, including an event this week moderated by Zaelke and co-sponsored by Colombia, IGSD, Earthjustice, and the Bellona Foundation.
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