Coalition of the Working - A blog from the CCAC

Author: Keith S. Collins, Communications Consultant, CCAC Secretariat Created: Monday, December 16, 2013 RssIcon
The CCAC's official blog
By CCAC Admin on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

In his encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis describes the immorality of a society based on over-consumption, which takes from the earth more than can be sustained, and chokes our land and our oceans and our atmosphere with waste. The Pope describes the injustice of the "economy of exclusion," where the poor are increasingly isolated on the margins of society, and urges us to "integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor." But the biggest injustice and loudest cry of the poor will come from the failure to reduce climate impacts immediately, when we have the means to do so at our disposal.

The Pope receives advice on environmental science through the Pontifical Academy of Science, where a third of its eighty members are Nobel Laureates. He also receives advice on economics and environmental justice from the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences consisting of world-renowned scholars. The two academies met in 2014 and one of us (VR) presented our findings in person to Pope Francis. We informed him that about 60 percent of the warming pollutants are due to the top consuming one billion people, while the poorest three billion people contribute only about 5 percent, yet they will suffer the worst consequences of climate disruption.

By CCAC Admin on Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Multiple Pollutants – Multiple Benefits

In Paris later this year nations will come together to define the terms under which we will aim for zero net emissions in the latter half of the century.  It’s then the hard work starts! 

The scale of transformation is massive and will take time.  Recent work from the World Bank Group offers guidance to nations as they begin the process of creating a zero-carbon future by planning ahead, getting prices right and smoothing the transition for those who stand to be affected. Clearly the focus on carbon is essential. But we must not overlook targeting the so-called short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – including black carbon, methane and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Recent science indicates that a focus on these short-lived climate pollutants can not only significantly slow anticipated warming over the...
By CCAC Admin on Monday, July 6, 2015

As we enter the second half of the year, activity is picking up in advance of COP21 in Paris this December.China just released its “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” to peak its carbon-dioxide emissions around 2030. And in June, six oil and gas majors—BG Group, BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil, and Total—published a joint letter to the UN and international governments to affirm their own climate commitments and call for action to ensure we remain within the 2°C threshold. Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, responded with her own open letter to...
By CCAC Admin on Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Over half the world's population now live in urban areas. Local and regional  government leaders gather this week in the World Summit Climate & Territories in Lyon to formulate concrete commitments and course of action by subnational governments in advance of Paris COP21 Climate Conference. They are leaders for both climate action AND clean air!

Cities, non-state organisations and the private sector all have important roles to play in reducing climate change. City involvement in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), is essential to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) that cause both near-term climate change and air pollution. Reducing these pollutants has multiple benefits for cities – including air quality, public health, food security and energy efficiency – and should be a core component of any city’s climate and sustainable...
By CCAC Admin on Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Freight movement will grow 430% by 2050 and is often inefficient – for example, 40% of trucks run empty in many developing countries. The environmental impacts from these types of inefficiencies adds to climate changing greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions. But the costs for business and economic development constraints must also be addressed.

We must find ways to tackle freight inefficiency and environmental impacts. The Global Green Freight Action Plan launched today at the International Transport Forum’s (ITF) Annual Summit plans to do just that.  Over 50 stakeholders of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition have already endorsed the UN Climate Summit Call to Action and three key goals: strengthening and harmonizing existing green freight programs, creating new green freight programs, and incorporating black carbon into green freight efforts. This...
By CCAC Admin on Friday, April 24, 2015

When considering climate change, chances are you’re thinking of the usual suspect, carbon dioxide. Although carbon dioxide is by far the most important pollutant and most significant cause of global warming, it is not the only culprit. 

Some of the other suspects have long names but short lives. While carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for millennia, short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs)—comprising black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons—have a lifespan somewhere between days and a few years. They don’t get much press, but SLCPs represent up to 45 percent of total warming emissions.  As such, they deserve their own share of the climate-action spotlight.

BSR is keen to shine a light on SLCPs,...
By CCAC Admin on Thursday, February 26, 2015

Air pollution has become part of life for people across large parts of Asia. Thick smog chokes cities and their inhabitants as black exhaust from diesel engines clogs the air on daily commutes. In rural areas, views of mountains and valleys are often obscured by a haze that comes from distant urban and industrial sources as well as from local cooking and agricultural fires. Air pollution contributes to climate change, and it also threatens the health and quality of life of those forced to live with it.

Doctors now find themselves on the front lines of two increasingly connected issues: protecting human health and the earth’s climate. This coming May, at the World Health Organization’s 68th World Health Assembly, countries are poised to adopt the first resolution on air pollution and health. This resolution will help mobilize the health sector to coordinate...
By CCAC Admin on Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It seems fitting that NASA scientists announced that 2014 was the hottest year on record immediately before Prime Minister Modi and President Obama meet in India next week. Because these two leaders have a unique opportunity to set the world on a path to address more than half of the projected global warming through mid-century, a critical period for avoiding irreversible impacts.

To do this, the leaders need to extend the climate and energy agreement they reached last September, and add a program to reduce black carbon soot, methane, and ground-level ozone, the main component of urban smog. Their earlier agreement included using the Montreal Protocol to cut hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), used as refrigerants and for insulating foams. During next week's...
By CCAC Admin on Sunday, December 14, 2014

Climate change cannot be solved without leadership from heads of government, without immediate mitigation of near-term warming, and without cutting short-lived climate pollutants to complement the UN climate agreement.

1. Climate change cannot be solved by ministers alone, but requires leadership from heads of government. 

By moving climate to the leader level over the past 18 months, President Obama changed the "climate" of the climate change negotiations. His effort started with his first meeting with President Xi of China in Sunnylands, California last June, where the two biggest climate polluters reached two agreements: the first to cooperate on threats from North Korea, the second to cooperate to reduce super greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. President Obama followed this up with other bilateral agreements on HFCs with President...
By CCAC Admin on Friday, October 17, 2014
The Secretary-General’s Climate Summit has put the global conversation on climate change right to where it belongs – centre stage.

The bold commitments made by governments, investment institutions, global corporations, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations clearly demonstrate that reaching a meaningful and impactful climate agreement in Paris 2015 is not elusive. It is tangible, doable and necessary.

Important actions are being taken all around the world; now we need to scale them up substantially, and back them with firm, binding commitments.

China pledged to take firm action, with Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli affirming that China would reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 2020.

The United States voiced its support for an ambitious agreement that is commensurate with the scale of the challenge.

By CCAC Admin on Friday, October 10, 2014
The meeting was chaired by the Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek and United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner. This was Minister Ek´s last meeting in CCAC, since her government lost in the Swedish parliamentary election a week before the meeting

The UN Climate Summit was an amazing phenomenon. Over 400,000 people marched through the city on Sunday September 21 to urge world leaders to take climate change seriously. Two days later some 100 Heads of State and Heads of Government met under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's leadership to discuss the way forward and what steps can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a fossil-free society.

The opening of the meeting was engaging. "My job is to pretend,” said actor Leonardo Di Caprio to the world leaders, “but it is not your job. You cannot continue to pretend climate change does not exist." Al...
By CCAC Admin on Friday, October 10, 2014
As Chair of the CCAC Scientific Advisory Panel, I am writing this comment to address any misconception of the results of the recent Hodnebrog et al. study, published in Nature Communications, due to recent reporting by the Guardian.

Black carbon is a powerful climate forcer and air pollutant, and an important target for climate protection, public and ecological health, and sustainable development. However, a recent article by the Guardian titled “Climate Impact of Black Carbon Severely Overestimated,” has mischaracterized the results of the Hodnebrog study, calling into question the climate impact of this dangerous pollutant. The article’s conclusions were based on extremely selective reporting on the...
By CCAC Admin on Friday, September 19, 2014
In the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, home to 12 million people, less than half the garbage is formally collected. The rest is dumped in open spaces, particularly in slums.

The piles of rubbish create a stench, attract rodents and clog drains. Liquids leach into the groundwater. Often the trash is burned, creating thick smoke.

In Cali, Colombia, virtually all the waste is collected, and most goes into a sanitary landfill. Yet of the roughly 600,000 tonnes of material disposed of each year, only about 17 percent is recycled. Around half the recycling is done by informal waste-pickers, some of the city’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

Meanwhile in Stockholm, Sweden, less than 1 percent of trash goes to landfills. More than half is turned into energy – incinerated or used to produce biogas, which fuels city buses and garbage trucks. A third is recycled, and about one sixth is composted or anaerobically digested.

This is an exciting time for climate action. U.N....
By CCAC Admin on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
In early 2014 the Government of Bangladesh gave its brick kiln owners an ultimatum: Convert to clean, modern technologies for brick production by July or face tough legal action.

Brick kilns are one of the major sources of black carbon pollution in the world. In Bangladesh, black carbon from the nearly 7,000 kilns in the country was hurting pollination for the vast mango crop in the north, as well as the rice crop. It was harming human health. And it contributed to the climate change that has been raising average temperatures in the country, particularly over the last two decades. Kilns in Bangladesh produce some 20 billion bricks every year, but about 4,000 of the kilns used old and polluting technologies, and almost all used coal as a fuel.

Bangladesh’s stand against pollution from the brick kiln industry began with the personal commitment of one of the co-authors of this blog post, Anwar Hossain Manju, to do something about the problem.  He saw first-hand how pollution...
By CCAC Admin on Friday, September 12, 2014
OK, that's not literally a latte diesel-machiatto. But figuratively, you bet it is. Nearly everything you use or consume -- the coffee at your elbow, the table it's sitting on, the smart device you're reading this on, the eyeglasses you're wearing, the car you drove to get to the coffee shop -- was carried to you on a truck, and the chances are nearly 100 percent that that truck ran on diesel fuel. Some part of the price you paid for that stuff went to pay for the cost of that fuel, and not a small part, either: transportation accounts for on the order of 10 percent of the commercial cost of most products.

In a manner of speaking, that coffee, that smartphone, that table represent the diesel fuel that transported them -- as well as the climate pollutants and air pollutants released when that fuel was burned. The movement of freight by heavy-duty diesel vehicles produces about 20 percent of global emissions of black carbon, a climate pollutant second only in importance to carbon dioxide....
By CCAC Admin on Saturday, July 26, 2014
I am convinced that with an organized approach and a smart communications plan, any country can attack their short-lived climate pollutant challenges and make progress.

Here is how we in Cote d’Ivoire plan to do it:

First, we have established a legal framework with a steering committee to mirror, as much as possible, the work of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. With myself, two project assistants and a secretary, we intend to create and coordinate initiatives that exactly mirror the ten initiatives of the CCAC (such as agriculture, cookstoves, municipal solid waste, heavy-duty diesel, Support for National Action Planning (SNAP), etc.). Within this framework, these initiatives will report to a Coordination Unit, which will circulate all reports to the steering committee at the national level for political guidance and endorsement.

Next, we will implement a comprehensive communications plan, some elements of which are already in place. We have chosen five journalists...
By CCAC Admin on Friday, May 9, 2014
The Abu Dhabi Ascent, held May 4 and 5, was the first attempt by the UN Secretary-General to promote real and meaningful action by sector, not only to tackle climate change but to create political momentum for heads of state to come to an agreement on a path to avoid a catastrophic increase in earth’s temperature of 2 degrees Celsius. The world today has a better understanding of the urgency of the situation and the consequences of inaction.

Abu Dhabi reminded us that we also have the solutions at hand. Major action on SLCPs is one of those solutions, and if done right it can help avoid 0.5 C of temperature increase by 2050. We can do it, but we need strong leaders who can think globally and have long-term vision. The SG Climate Summit in September is the time to grab this opportunity, to tell the world that we have begun a new era, an era that can allow the atmosphere to heal, an era where living on this planet will be a pleasant adventure and not a scary one, where our children...
By CCAC Admin on Monday, February 17, 2014
No doubt we haven’t got it right over the years of climate talks. It is not too late, though, to begin. This laudable Coalition that so many of us are part of ­– I want to declare Nigeria's absolute and unconditional support. A Coalition of the Working! I am happy this Coalition is being driven by partners’ willingness to effect change for a cleaner world. We must consider ourselves fortunate to be part of a movement that is creating awareness that reducing short-lived climate pollutants is important not only to climate but also to development – to the environment, health and economic empowerment.

Nigeria is working on mainstreaming the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, on curbing gas flaring and venting to tackle energy poverty, providing clean cooking to over 70 million Nigerians without clean cookstoves, and making our agriculture sector viable again. We in the government are replicating all the Coalition's initiatives as part of our National Action Plan, as well as...
By CCAC Admin on Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Over six million people die prematurely from smoking every year. New studies show that as many people die from air pollution. Whether to smoke or not is a choice we make, but we do not have the same opportunity to choose whether or not to breathe fresh air.

Preventing tobacco-related health impacts and other non-communicable diseases are on the top of the world’s health agenda.  Many countries have adopted strategies for limiting tobacco-related diseases. However, very few countries have concrete plans for reducing health impacts from air pollution, including black carbon. 

Last year many big cities experienced enormous problems, with pollution levels way beyond the danger zone. For example, some cities in Asia had pollution levels 40 times higher than what WHO defines as safe, which is higher than in smoking areas of larger airports.

The heaviest burden falls on the poor and vulnerable. Children under five and women in developing countries are the main groups dying...
By CCAC Admin on Thursday, December 19, 2013
2013 will likely be remembered in China as the year of the “airpocalypse.” In January, Beijing faced its worst air quality crisis in a decade. In October, buses in the northern city of Harbin literally got lost in the smog. In December, it was Shanghai’s turn to be engulfed in haze. It seems nearly impossible to see anything positive about these acute pollution crises, but there may actually be a silver lining in the smog.

Over the past year, the extreme air pollution has galvanized China’s top leaders, media, and general public, and catalyzed a host of major regulatory actions and plans targeting short and long-term particle pollution mitigation. For example, the State Council’s September...
By CCAC Admin on Monday, December 2, 2013
With the conclusion of COP19 and renewed attention to the problem of climate change, an important point seems to need making again. So if you will permit me, I would like to do so here:

Reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) does not decrease the urgency of reducing carbon dioxide emissions (CO2).

This is something the CCAC says repeatedly. Reducing emissions of SLCPs, or non-CO2 forcers, can have a large benefit through reduced near-term warming and improved human and ecosystem health. But SLCP mitigation does not have much impact on long-term peak warming and so does not “buy time” for reducing CO2.

As we say in our basic brochure and all our literature, “Fast action to reduce [SLCPs], especially methane and black carbon, has the potential to slow down the warming expected by 2050 by as much as 0.5°C, as well as prevent more than two million premature deaths each year and avoid annual crop losses of over 30 million tonnes. These actions need to be complemented...
By CCAC Admin on Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Polish university student Agnieszka Madejewska has taken two weeks off from studies to help out at the Global Landscapes Forum, part of the events of the 19th Conference of Parties last week and this in Warsaw, Poland.

Let me talk for a minute about Warsaw, where I am attending the COP19 conference. It’s my first time here, and I’m really taken with the beauty of what has become a very modern city with old-world charm, and with the warmth of the people. But more than that, I have to say I love what the government and other organizers have done with this conference. They have made a potential logistical nightmare as smooth and impressive as their ability to handle all the z’s and w’s in their language.

I’m aware of the demonstrations and controversies. There are always controversies on these occasions, when everyone has an interest and everyone has an opponent. The CCAC has its share of opponents, too. That’s part of the democratic process. But a meeting like this can result in a lot more pain than is necessary if people are frustrated because they can’t figure out where to go.

But Poland has taken care of that part very well. Walk anywhere in the labyrinth of offices and meeting rooms at the National Stadium, where most events are being held, and you will find someone to help you. Sometimes every few feet. That’s no small thing when there are a dozen essential tasks that you needed to get done an hour ago, and you don’t have time to figure out the color-coded map. There is virtue in overstaffing at a time like this. Not to mention training. There is a minimum of shrugs and a maximum of “Yes, I know where that is” or “I know where you can find that out.” A little help makes a big difference. 

By CCAC Admin on Sunday, November 17, 2013

This is a new blog. And, perhaps surprisingly, given the nature of the problem this partnership of governments and organizations is tackling, a positive one. 

You can trace that positive approach back to the origins of the partnership. The CCAC is not only voluntary, and it’s not only committed to its cause. It’s about doing something to reduce emissions while addressing issues of climate change, air quality, public health and food production. That’s saying a lot for a group like this, let’s face it.

First, it’s driven by governments and a United Nations program. In a lot of people’s minds, this is not a recipe for efficient action.

Second, it’s addressing one of the thorniest problems facing humanity, how to reduce emissions of pollutants that are widespread and historical, with the activities that produce them in many cases deeply entrenched. It’s understandable that people might want to throw up their hands and declare the problem insoluble. 

Third, the CCAC has a tiny staff that is constantly overworked and scattered among several cities in Europe and Africa.  

But the CCAC has defied the preconceptions so far. As one of its founding partners—Lena Ek, Sweden’s Environment Minister—said some time ago, “We’re not just a coalition of the willing. We’re also a coalition of the working.” Anyone who wants to talk gets a respectful hearing. Talk is important, because you have to have agreement. But action has to follow, or the talker risks getting left behind. 

I’m writing this while attending a number of interesting events and meetings at COP19 in Warsaw. There’s a lot of talking here, including by CCAC and its partners. Still, it’s refreshing to be part of a global group where speechifying is kept to a minimum.

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