New Report Supports Need for Immediate Cuts in Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

Paris, 4 November 2013 – A new report from the World Bank and the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) demonstrates clearly the harmful effects that short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) are having on the cryosphere, or snow- and ice-covered regions of the world.

Addressing short-lived climate pollutants, especially black carbon and methane, can help slow the melting occurring in the Arctic, Antarctica, Himalayas, Andes and East Africa as a result of climate change. Reducing SLCP emissions can also benefit the health and development of people in thousands of communities.

The report, called “On Thin Ice: How Cutting Pollution Can Slow Warming and Save Lives,” builds on studies from UNEP and others from as far back as 2009 that have shown the link between climate change and cryosphere melting. This report makes the connection with SLCPs explicit and asks directly, What are the climate benefits to cutting these pollutants? The World Bank and the ICCI are partners in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

“Reports like this are extremely helpful in raising awareness of the need for reducing short-lived climate pollutants,” said Helena Molin Valdes, Head of the CCAC Secretariat. “But perhaps even more important are the concrete solutions the report proposes. There are many things that can be done now, in addition to making cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. It is clear humanity can meet this challenge if we take action.”

The CCAC is working to create political momentum around the reduction of SLCPs worldwide. Through its on-the-ground initiatives in several sectors, the Coalition is also addressing specific causes of the warming problems discussed in the report.

  • Household cooking and heating represent a key source of harmful black carbon emissions worldwide and especially in the cryosphere. Coalition Partners aim to speed the pace of reductions in emissions of SLCPs through high-level advocacy, support for new finance mechanisms, new research, and development of standards and testing protocols.
  • An estimated 19 percent of global black carbon emissions come from the transportation sector. Coalition Partners are working with governments and the private sector to achieve substantial reductions of fine particulate matter and black carbon emissions from heavy-duty diesel vehicles.
  • Brick production has been identified as an important area where substantial emission reductions can be made for black carbon. Coalition Partners are developing a global awareness-raising campaign to increase political attention and build capacity to mitigate the impacts of black carbon and other pollutants.
  • Landfills are the third largest source of global anthropogenic methane emissions, and open garbage burning emits black carbon, among other pollutants. Coalition Partners are engaging with municipal and national governments to reduce emissions of SLCPs across the municipal solid waste sector by providing a comprehensive collection of resources for cities.
  • The oil and gas sector accounts for roughly 20 percent of global anthropogenic methane emissions and substantial amounts of black carbon. Coalition Partners are working with companies and countries to collaboratively design mechanisms and voluntary commitments to achieve substantial emission reductions from natural gas venting, leakage, and flaring.
  • The agriculture sector is the largest source of methane emissions and produces a significant portion of black carbon. Coalition Partners aim to share and implement best practices for minimizing emissions from agriculture in a manner that is consistent with broader climate change objectives and also enhances food security and livelihoods.

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants is a partnership of governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, the environmental community, and other members of civil society. The Coalition is government-led but is highly cooperative and voluntary. Short-lived climate pollutants are agents that have a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere—a few days to a few decades—but also a warming influence on climate as well as, in many cases, detrimental impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems.

For more information, please contact:

  • Nick Nuttall, Director, UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information/UNEP Spokesperson, nick.nuttall@unep.org, +254 733 632755
  • Keith Collins, Communications consultant to CCAC, keith.collins@unep.org,  +41 76 703 53 33

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