Over the next decade the world must make significant progress to slow the climate crisis, reduce air pollution, and address poverty and growing inequality. Today, a high-level meeting of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Working Group adopted a new ten-year strategy to significantly bolster global efforts to attain these goals by 2030.
Since its founding in 2012, the Coalition has been the only international body working on integrated climate and clean air solutions to reduce the rate of near-term warming by reducing short-lived climate pollutants like methane, black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and tropospheric ozone.
Acting fast to reduce these powerful climate forcers and dangerous air pollutants can slow temperature rise, prevent dangerous and irreversible climate tipping points, help communities and ecosystems to adapt, and save millions of live annually from diseases caused by air pollution. These same actions improve food security, benefit economies and help deliver global sustainable development goals.
The potential to significantly reduce these super pollutants guides the 2030 strategy and redoubles the Coalition’s efforts. The strategy also meets the current global COVID-19 crisis head-on by positioning climate and clean air efforts at the centre of a global green recovering and regeneration.
Opening the high-level session of the Coalition’s Working Group, Janine Kuriger, Co-Chair for Switzerland, said the adoption of the 2030 strategy marks an important milestone for the Coalition and reaffirmed international commitment to improving air quality and reducing the rate of warming.
Coalition partners and Ministers expressed their support for the new strategy and outlined the steps they would take to achieve its goals.
Krista Mikkonen, Finland’s Minister of Environment, said she was happy to endorse an action oriented strategy saying: “We need ambitious action to mitigate climate change. At the same time, we need to continue to reduce harmful air pollutants. Mitigating short-lived climate pollutants like black-carbon and methane provides an opportunity to address these challenges together. Finland is committed to move fast to lower our emissions.”
Abdullah Bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, United Arab Emirates (UAE) noted the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic highlighted the need for environmentally friendly practices that preserve natural resources and for international collaboration on appropriate responses to climate change, saying: “The UAE is therefore proud to be a member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. In line with the 2030 Strategy, we seek to cut air pollution through an enhanced zero-flaring policy, and state-of-the-art cooling methods.”
Andrea Meza, Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment, said COVID-19 has led to reduced air pollution around the world but also shown that exposure to air pollution can increase the severity and number of deaths caused by COVID-19, saying: “The global response to COVID-19 presents a unique opportunity to build back better by addressing air pollution and climate change mitigation, and by emphasizing the importance of integrating short-lived climate pollutant mitigation in recovery and financial plans.”
Muhammad Mahmood Abubakar, Minister of Environment, Nigeria, noted that Nigeria’s National Action Plan to Reduce short-lived climate pollutants includes 22 priority measures across all major economic sectors and covering all relevant emissions. “As a country with an agriculturally based economy, widespread food insecurity, and where the effects of climate change are already evident, reaping the multiple benefits of short-lived climate pollutant mitigation is critical,” Mr Abubakar said.
Japan and Norway, two of the largest donors to the Coalition, increased their contributions to the Coalition’s Trust Fund for 2021.
Ragnhild Valstad, Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway, announced Norway will contribute 15 million Norwegian Kroner (US $1.72 million) to the trust fund, saying Norway was very happy with the new strategy, especially the strong emphasis it gives to supporting national action over the next ten years.
Hiroshi Tsujihara, Director for International Strategy on Climate Change at the Ministry of Environment, Japan, announced that Japan will contribute US $1.25 million to the trust fund, saying it was Japan’s pleasure to support the Coalition’s activities together with CCAC partners.
Peter Dery, Ghana’s Co-Chair, thanked both countries for their generous contribution and called on all partners to contribute to the trust fund.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) hosts the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Secretariat. Joyce Msuya, UNEP’s Executive Deputy Director, said the 2030 strategy builds on Coalition achievements and supports global efforts to de-carbonize and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. She noted that UNEP’s latest Emissions Gap Report showed the world is still headed to a 3.2 C temperature rise by the end of this century urged partners to invest in a green recovery.
“As nations seek ways to recover from the COVID19 recovery I see immense opportunity. I see a real chance, perhaps our best yet, to avert climate catastrophe and avert destruction of the living world,” Ms Msuya said. “To succeed the vast stimulus packages being mobilized by governments must be spent on building back green not squandered on industries that damage the environment.”
Partners called for a flagship programme to work with countries to include short-lived climate pollutant reduction as part of their COVID-19 economic recovery packages. Katie Ross from the World Resources Institute introduced a proposal outlining the potential scope of such a programme.
Asmau Jibril from Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment endorsed the idea saying Nigeria is building a sustainable energy future as part of a US $6 billion economic recovery stimulus package.
“We would be very happy to engage with partners and share experiences on COVID recovery work going forward and believe this would be a worthwhile flagship programme for the Coalition,” Ms Jibril said.
The Swiss and Ghanaian Co-Chairs also noted the important role the Coalition plays in helping countries achieve national and international development goals.
Patricia Danzi, Director-General of the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency, said that measures to reduce SLCPs were cost effective and critical to development: “The impact of climate change is increasingly being felt around the world and the poorest and the most vulnerable communities are often hit the hardest. Air pollution remains a major public health challenge accounting for an estimated 7 million premature deaths every year. Let us start working on the implementation of the 2030 strategy now, with the required determination to achieve our mission goals.”
Cynthia Asare Bediako, Chief Director of Ghana’s Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said: "A stand-out achievement of the Coalition so far is the focus on supporting many developing countries to plan, build capacity and take action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants – and to demonstrate the powerful impact that the same effort can have on important development goals, for public health and for food security in particular. I am therefore very happy to endorse the Coalition’s 2030 Strategy – and I call on all Coalition Partners to join hands to put it into action as fast as possible.”
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).
The 2030 Strategy sets 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 new strategy lays out the mechanisms and structure to support the Coalition’s work going forward. It includes the creation of Strategic Planning and Sectoral Hubs that build on the successful CCAC initiatives and have flexible engagement strategies that can be updated over the decade.
A continued commitment to increasing and improving scientific knowledge is a core priority for the Coalition, and five additional experts from a range of new disciplines will join the CCAC Scientific Advisory Panel in 2021 to increase capacity and widen its scope.
Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the Climate and Clean Air Secretariat thanked the co-chairs from Ghana and Switzerland and the the task team who developed the 2030 strategy saying it was something all partners could build from.
“Our partners are the driving force behind this Coalition and are crucial to achieving our vision and mission. Time is of the essence if we are to prevent the worst outcomes from climate change and prevent millions of unnecessary premature deaths from air pollution,” Ms Molin Valdés said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the value of collaboration and that we are all in this together. Through close collaboration, helping and learning from each other, and actively solving problems this Coalition will achieve the goals it has set itself.”
2021 will be a year of transition for the Coalition. It will continue work as usual but will also begin putting in place the structural changes needed to deliver the new strategy. The first Climate and Clean Air Coalition Ministerial will take place in November 2021 on the margins of COP26 in Glasgow, the United Kingdom.
Tomohiro Kondo, Vice Minister for Global Environmental Affairs, Japan said the CACC plays a vital role in sharing the importance of integrated approaches for better air quality and climate change mitigation: “The world is now confronting a climate crisis and a health crisis caused by air pollution along with COVID-19. I believe the CCAC’s activities are a vital response these crises and the time to act is now,” Mr Kondo said. “Let us lead the world to drive emissions reductions together.”
Dirk Messner, President, Federal Environment Agency, Germany, said: “I would like to thank the Strategy Task Force for having developed this focused and forward-looking 2030 Strategy. Germany fully supports this strategy, as it is an important milestone on our way to integrated climate change and air pollution strategies.”
Patricia Fuller, Ambassador for Climate Change, Canada, said: “The CCAC has an essential role to play in developing the policies and practices that can deliver substantial reductions of short-lived climate pollutants. Reducing SLCPs is a critical part of addressing climate change and of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.”
Javier Naranjo, Undersecretary of the Environment, Ministry of Environment, Chile, said Chile has committed to the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 with great conviction, and this requires Chile to decouple emissions from economic growth and strongly promote the transformation to more sustainable and inclusive development. “Our new Nationally Determined Contribution recognizes that actions to mitigate short-lived climate pollutants also contribute to limiting the global average temperature increase. This work must be consistent with greenhouse gas reduction efforts."
Maria Amparo Martinez Arroyo, Director General of the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, said Mexico's updated Nationally Determined Contribution was approved and that short-lived climate pollutants are an important and amplified element for both mitigation and adaptation strategies. “For us, the 2030 CCAC strategy will constitute a very useful framework for our climate policy.”
Durwood Zaelke, President, Insitute of Governance and Sustainable Development, said: "The 2020 UNEP Emissions Gap report shows we are on a disaster course. It is in the hands of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to win the 2030 sprint to reduce near-term warming as fast as we can as the world marches along to decarbonization by 2050. We need to move to speed and scale even more than we have in the past. What the CCAC does in the next five years will help determine the fate of the planet. If we play our part, we have a chance of keeping the planet safe."