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 GC Today - 23 February 2011

Side Event

Quick Action on Climate Change: The Option of Reducing Short-lived Climate Forcers


Short-lived climate change forcers are substances such as methane, black carbon, tropospheric ozone, and many hydrofluorocarbons which have a significant impact on climate change, and a relatively short lifespan in the atmosphere compared to CO2 and other longer-lived gases. Recent assessment sponsored by UNEP and WMO shows that it is possible to slow down the pace of global warming very quickly by reducing their concentrations in the atmosphere. Reducing short-lived climate forcers would not only enhance climate protection, but will also have significant health, agricultural, and ecosystem benefits, by reducing air pollution. This side event is therefore focused at presenting results from the UNEP/WMO scientific assessment and to present policy options that could become part of a comprehensive Action Plan for slowing climate change by targeting reductions of short-lived climate forcers.


The side event was co-chaired and jointly moderated by H.E. Mr. Andreas Carlgren (Swedish Environment Minister) and H.E. Dr. Mohammed Hasan Mahmud (Bangladeshi Minister of Environment & Forestry). Presentations were given by Dr. Frank Raes (Head, Climate Change Unit, European Commission Joint Research Centre, Italy), Dr. Johan Kuylenstierna (Director, Stockholm Environment Institute, UK) and Dr. Bradnee Chambers (Chief, Policy & Interlinkages Unit, UNEP/DELC). Panelists include H.E. Mr. Daniel Reifsynder (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, USA), Dr. Christian Blondin; (Director, Cabinet of the Secretary-General and External Relations Department, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Ms. Pam Pearson (International Cryosphere Climate Initiative), and Ms. Lorna Omuodo (Founder, Vanilla Jatropha Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya).

The first two speakers shed light on the science behind short-lived climate forcers and the potential benefits from their reduction, while the third speaker presented policy options for reducing them. The main issues raised by the panelist during the discussion include:


  • The need for awareness-raising on the potentials that exist in reducing short-lived climate forcers, especially among decision-makers.

  • The need to recognize that reducing short-lived climate forcers alone will not meet the 2°C temperature target. Hence, the importance of taken an integrated approach involving measures to reduce CO2 and short-lived forcers.

  • The need to take advantage of the immediate- and co-benefits from reducing short-lived climate forcers.

The event was concluded by a vote of thanks given by Prof. Joseph Alcamo (UNEP Chief Scientist).