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The Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s working group held its first meeting of 2020 following delays and restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally slated to be held in April in Manila, the Philippines, the meeting was held virtually on November 18-19. While COVID-19 might have delayed the meeting, it hasn’t stopped important work that continued through the year.
On the first day Ghana’s Co-Chair, Peter Dery, led the Working Group in a review of a new strategy that will guide the Coalition’s work to 2030. The CCAC’s 2030 Strategy represents a new phase for the Coalition that builds on the achievements of the past eight years.
The Coalition’s first phase, 2012-2020, created the political will and the capacity to deliver substantial short-lived climate pollutant (SLCPs) reductions. Successes include mobilizing high-level political support and undertake national proof-of concept demonstration projects to test alternatives to HFCs, that led to the global commitment to phase down HFCs under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the inclusion of short-lived climate pollutants by many countries in their Nationally Determined Contributions, and development of a wealth of good practices, scientific analysis, case studies, guidance documents, policies and methodologies to guide emissions reductions.
More still needs to be done. In order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and hold warming to 1.5˚C, the lessons learned, and solutions developed by the Coalition must now deliver significant reductions in short-lived climate pollutants over the next decade. The science indicates that this is possible. Methane emissions can be reduced by 40% and black carbon by 70% by 2030 (from 2010 levels). Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can be virtually eliminated with the potential for a 99.5% reduction by 2050 (from 2010 levels).
Time is of the essence. Acting fast to reduce these super pollutants can slow the climate crisis, prevent dangerous and irreversible climate tipping points, and enable communities and ecosystems to adapt. It would also provide immediate benefits from reduced air pollution, which will prevent millions of premature deaths annually and improve food security by avoiding tens-of-millions tonnes of annual staple crop losses.
The Coalition’s 2030 Vision is to put the world on a pathway in the next decade that rapidly reduces warming in the near-term and maximizes development, health, environmental and food security benefits. Over the past year members of CCAC’s Strategy Task Team worked diligently to draft a strategy to achieve this.
Dan McDougall, Senior Policy Advisor to the CCAC, introduced the Draft Strategy saying the Coalition can drive significant SLCP reductions in the next decade that would prevent up to half-degree of warming in the near term, 20% of sea-level rise by 2050, and two-thirds of the predicted warming in the Arctic.
The strategy set out three directions to guide the Coalition. These include Driving an ambitious agenda by increasing high-level ambition and promoting integrated climate and air pollution solutions that produce multiple social, economic and environmental benefits; Supporting national and transformative actions by mobilizing finance, supporting transformative actions, and strengthening capacity building, peer-to-peer engagement and leadership to achieve substantial emission reductions; and Advancing policy-relevant research and analysis to provide decision-makers the confidence and tools to make ambitious commitments and take fast action.
The Draft Strategy also laid out the mechanisms and structure to support this work and put partners as the driving force of the Coalition. It includes the creation of Strategic Planning and Sectoral Hubs building on the successful CCAC initiatives or new areas of priorities, with flexible engagement strategies that can be updated over the decade, and a continued commitment to increasing and improving the scientific knowledge at the core of the Coalition. It looks to increase collaboration with the growing number of actors in this field and provide flagship programs and campaigns.
The Working Group was asked to raise any questions or comments on the Draft Strategy. The next step in the process will be another meeting of the working group on December 16 with Ministers and Leaders to adopt the Strategy. The Coalition will then enter a transitional phase in 2021 where steps to gradually bring elements of the strategy online will take place. Regular CCAC work will continue over this time and the strategy will come into force on January 1, 2022.
Participants were reminded that key to the new strategy’s success would be a re-commitment of resources and funds into the Coalition’s Trust Fund prior to its 2022 launch, similar to those generously provided to support the CCAC’s work during its first phase.
The second day of the Working Group saw the focus turn to more current issues, in particular COVID-19 and how the CCAC can contribute to global efforts finance an economic recovery by building back better. The discussions were led by Switzerland’s Co-Chair, Janine Kuriger.
Katie Ross, an Associate with the World Resource Institute’s (WRI) Climate Program, introduced a joint CCAC, WRI expert note on SLCPs and the Economic Recovery that outlined country examples of SLCP mitigation in recovery plans and suggests how these can help countries meet their recovery and development aspirations and keep global temperature rise below 1.5˚C.
There have been unprecedented government financial interventions in response to COVID-19. Stimulus packages from 17 major economies have already equaled $11.8 trillion as of September 2020. However, analysis of these plans show they might cause more harm than good. Plans from 14 of the 17 studied economies could result in environmentally damaging outcomes. But several new reports from the likes of the OECD, International Energy Agency and International Monetary Fund, show that a green recovery can lead to more jobs and better economic outcomes than traditional stimulus.
Examples of areas where countries are investing green recovery funds include decarbonizing electricity, more efficient buildings, sustainable transport and nature-based solutions. SLCP specific actions include activities like methane reduction from agriculture, waste, and oil and gas – being carried out by the European Union, New Zealand, and Canada respectively. And black carbon reduction in transport – Republic of Korea, Germany, France and Australia – and in household energy in Nigeria.
The Coalition was asked, when looking at ways to contribute to the recovery, to consider which mitigation actions would be the most relevant for job creation and other economic and development benefits, and how the CCAC can be most effective in assisting countries. The speakers suggested that this could become an area of work for CCAC.
Romina Picolotti, Climate Change Advisor at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, highlighted debt for climate swaps as a potential source of funding for a green recovery, noting it had been successful at catalyzing green development following debt crises in Argentina and Uruguay in the early 2000’s. The world has committed to raising $100 billion annually to fight climate change and transforming debt could provide a win-win solution. Ms. Picolotti said countries could link debt with national climate commitments and SLCP plans and identify a list of projects that can be financed.
Paola Visca, Director of the Climate Change Department at the Ministry of Environment, Uruguay, shared how a $19 million debt swap between Uruguay and Spain in 2003 focused on economic recovery and job creation in the infrastructure, environment and health sectors. The money was used to build three wastewater treatment plants and to construct the first renewable energy windmills in the country, which generated 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity. This funding seeded the development for wind renewable energy and there are now windmills generating 100s of megawatts of electricity across the country.
Daniel Benefor, Senior Programmes Officer at Ghana’s Environment Protection Agency, highlighted how cooperation with Switzerland on projects under the UN Climate Convention’s Article 6, which allows countries to voluntarily cooperate to reduce emissions through international carbon markets, is helping Ghana establish emissions reducing projects like increasing solar energy and installing improved cookstoves. The Ghanaian Government has also established a $2 billion COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES) Programme to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on businesses.
Agripina Jenkins, from the Ministry of Environment, Costa Rica, said that developing countries need to have the financial liquidity to recover not just from the COVID-19 crisis but to also address issues like climate change and protecting vulnerable groups. To do this Costa Rica is prioritizing a green recovery out of the pandemic, that considers its climate adaptation plans, its decarbonisation plan, and a just transition that factors in the needs of vulnerable groups.
Katrina Jayme, Senior Environment Officer at the Asia Development Bank (ADB), said the ADB is currently reviewing its programmatic approach to on air pollution in the region and how their existing programs can support a green recovery. The ADB wants to decouple economic recovery from environmental degradation. They will host a workshop to define what an air quality focused green recovery can look like in the region. Many of its starting points to reduce SLCPs can be found in the bank’s climate change program’s initiatives like the energy program, sustainable transport initiative, and the liveable cities program.
Drew Shindell, Chair of the CCAC’s Scientific Advisory Panel and Professor of Climate Sciences at Duke University, and Johan Kuylenstierna, Research Leader at the Stockholm Environment Institute, provided the working group with key outcomes from three science policy dialogues held in 2020. One each for HFCs, black carbon and methane.
Both HFCs and Black carbon exhibit promising emissions reduction trends.
HFCs are on track to be phased down through the Kigali Amendment, which will reduce their use by 85% by 2050. However, there is much potential for countries to be more ambitious and increase the climate benefits of HFC reduction by moving to ultra-efficient cooling technology as part of their Kigali Amendment obligations. An approach that employs the Maximum Technical Feasible Scenario could see HFC emissions reduced by 99.5% by 2050. Virtually eliminating them two decades sooner than the current Kigali phasedown timeline. Deploying Maximum Technically Feasible energy efficient cooling technologies could double Kigali’s benefit by reducing energy consumption in the rapidly expanding cooling sector and reduce energy consumption by a quarter of expected 2050 consumption levels.
Black carbon emissions have steadily decreased since 2010 and are expected to keep decreasing to 2030. The main sources of black carbon are household energy (52%) and transport (25%). The remainder comes from industry and fossil fuels (12%) and agriculture and waste burning. Current policies will see emissions from these sources reduce further. Maximum technically feasible mitigation could achieve a 70% reduction by 2030 (compared to 2010), higher than the required 35% identified to keep warming to 1.5˚C.
Methane is a different story. Emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas continue to rise. Without action things are expected to get worse. Significant emissions growth during the 2020s is expected from the three main anthropogenic sectors; fossil fuels, waste and agriculture.
The CCAC is currently finalizing a global methane assessment that aims to increase awareness of the multiple benefits of reducing emissions, and highlight the need for adequate policies, institutional structures and governance to quickly address the issue. The assessment uses state of the art modelling to show the impacts of methane reductions and help quantify climate and health impacts. Dr Shindell demonstrated the online tool developed as part of the assessment, which can be used to calculate methane’s impact on a number of factors, including human health, atmospheric temperature, workers productivity, and crop loss.
Brendan Devlin, an Advisor in the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy, outlined efforts by the European Union to reduce methane emissions. The European Union is finalizing plans to set up an independent International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO) with the UN Environment Programme to aggregate and analyse multiple methane emissions data streams – including data reported by member companies of the recently relaunched OGMP2.0 – to accelerate reductions in methane emissions globally. By assisting industry and governments globally in addressing uncertainty related to reported emissions, the Observatory will improve the consistency and credibility of methane emissions data and accelerate mitigation actions. Mr Develin noted that while there is little that the European Commission is calling for greater international cooperation on the issue in its recently adopted Communication on an EU strategy to reduce methane emissions. They will initially focus on emissions from the oil and gas sector and will immediately bring legislation to ensure tier 3 levels of reporting. The European Commission will look at the waste and agriculture sectors in the future and Communication on Methane calls for increased collaboration with the CCAC.
The Coalition continues to grow, and the Working Group welcomed its newest partners, Gabon and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Stanislas Mouba, Programme Manager at Gabon’s National Climate Council, said the climate and clean air issues are important for the environment, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Mouba said Gabon was committed to contributing and being part of the global solution to these problems. Gabon plans to strengthen its policies to reduce SLCPs and looks forward to working with all members of the Coalition.
Gautam Narasimhan, who together with Amy Wickham coordinates UNICEF’s global Climate, Energy, and Environment work, said UNICEF had an increasing interest in air pollution for the simple fact that it is a pernicious killer and source of morbidity and mortality for young children. Worldwide over half a million children under the age of five die from air pollution related causes which is more than the number of child deaths due to malaria, measles, and AIDS. This has become a significant focus of UNICEF’s work.
Ms. Wickham said over the last couple of years UNICEF have been conducting multiple air pollution engagements, spanning areas like advocacy, awareness raising, multi-sectoral action, youth engagement, programmes to reduce air pollution, air quality monitoring and research conducted on air pollution. UNICEF is looking forward to working with the CCAC to address the linked crisis of climate change and air pollution.
There are now 148 partners in the Coalition – 71 State Partners, 19 intergovernmental organizations and 58 non-governmental organizations.
Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the Coalition’s Secretariat, shared the the CCAC’s Annual Report for 2019-2020, which this year is fully digital. In the process of developing the report, the Secretariat updated hundreds of webpages, including partner, activity, and initiative pages and science messaging. The new format has been developed as part of resource mobilization efforts and to increase the transparency and accountability. It provides high-lights of success over the year with and new sections include information on the benefits of reducing SLCPs relevant to climate and development sectors, key results to date, an overview of investments made through the Trust Fund and links to the many stories and resources that shows the impact of the work of CCAC.
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