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UNEP at Work

 

Short lives, devastating impact: UNEP launches new coalition to tackle short-lived climate pollutants.

Pollutants that are short-lived in the atmosphere such as black carbon, methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are responsible for over 30 per cent of current global warming, with particularly large impacts in urban areas and sensitive regions of the world like the Arctic. They also are known to have harmful health and environmental impacts.

Addressing these short lived climate pollutants can have immediate, multiple benefits. Reducing them will protect human health and the environment now and slow the rate of climate change within the first half of this century.

Recognising that mitigation of the impacts of short lived climate pollutants is critical in the near term for addressing climate change, the governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United States came together with UNEP earlier this year to initiate the first effort to treat these pollutants as a collective challenge. Together, they have formed the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), a unique initiative to support fast action and make a difference on several fronts at once: public health, food and energy security and climate. The Coalition is open to countries and non-state actors that are committed to taking action on short lived climate pollutants, and wish to join in this global effort.

CCAC Objectives

The Coalition’s initial focus is on methane, black carbon, and HFCs. At the same time, Partners recognise that action on Short lived climate pollutants must complement and supplement, not replace, global action to reduce carbon dioxide, in particular efforts under the UNFCCC.

The Coalition’s objectives are to address short lived climate pollutants by:

  • Raising awareness of short lived climate pollutant impacts and mitigation strategies;
  • Enhancing and developing new national and regional actions, including by identifying and overcoming barriers, enhancing capacity, and mobilising support;
  • Promoting best practices and showcasing successful efforts; and
  • Improving scientific understanding of short lived climate pollutant impacts and mitigation strategies.

The Coalition intends to serve as a forum for assessing progress in addressing the challenge of short lived climate pollutants and for mobilising resources to accelerate action. It works to catalyse new actions as well as to highlight and bolster existing efforts on near-term climate change and related public health, food and energy security, and environmental issues.

Structure

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants is a partnership of governments, intergovernmental organizations, representatives of the private sector, the environmental community, and other members of civil society. The Coalition is government-led, but is highly cooperative and voluntary. Its governance structure includes the following;

  • A Working Group with representatives from the Partners oversees the cooperative actions of the Coalition.
  • A High-Level Assembly of the Coalition Partners convenes to set policy, take stock of progress and initiate future efforts.
  • A Scientific Advisory Panel is responsible for keeping the Coalition abreast of new science development on short lived climate pollutants, answer specific questions of the Coalition and inform policy discussions.
  • A Secretariat is hosted by UNEP in Paris.

What are short lived climate pollutants?

Short lived climate pollutants (SL CPs) are agents that have relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere - a few days to a few decades - and tend to have a warming influence on climate. The main short lived climate pollutants are black carbon, tropospheric ozone and methane, which are the most important contributors to the human enhancement of the global greenhouse effect after CO2. These short lived climate pollutants are also dangerous air pollutants, with various detrimental impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems. Other short lived climate pollutants include some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs are currently present in small quantity in the atmosphere their contribution to climate forcing is projected to climb to as much as 19% of global CO2 emissions by 2050.

Why do we need to act ?

Short lived climate pollutants are impacting public health, food, water and economic security of large populations, both directly through their impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems, and indirectly through their effects on climate. Short lived climate pollutants have become a major development issue that calls for quick and significant worldwide action.