Climate and Clean Air Coalition leaders: We must significantly reduce short-lived climate pollutants by 2030.

The Coalition’s 2030 Vision is in response to the United Nations Secretary General’s call for increased ambition and action to address the climate crisis.

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Chile and Japan's Ministers of Environment, Carolina Schmidt and Shinjiro Koizumi, attend the CCAC's High Level Assembly

A meeting of ministers and high-level representatives of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) today agreed to accelerate efforts to significantly reduce short-lived climate pollutants like methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by the end of the next decade in order to put the world on a “pathway that rapidly reduces warming in the near term and maximizes development, health, environmental, and food security benefits”. These efforts, they noted, must be complementary to aggressive carbon dioxide mitigation and a transition to a zero-carbon economy by mid-century.

Meeting a day before the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, the Coalition’s High Level Assembly put forward a 2030 Vision Statement that aims to ensure the Earth’s atmosphere continues to enable people and the planet to thrive by limiting warming to 1.5˚ Celsius and drastically reducing air pollution.

In a message to the Assembly, Finland’s President, Sauli Niinistö, reiterated the urgency required: “Climate change impacts the Arctic faster than any other region in the world. Reducing black carbon emissions is the most immediate way to limit further damage.  As a partner of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Finland is committed to this work on a global scale. Because this is not just a regional emergency. If we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe.”

President of Finland: reduce black carbon to protect the Arctic

President of Finland: reduce black carbon to protect the Arctic
President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö's message to the Climate & Clean Air Coalition's 2019 High Level Assembly

Short-lived climate pollutants (also known as super pollutants) are many times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet but because they are short-lived in the atmosphere, preventing emissions can rapidly reduce the rate of warming. Many are also dangerous air pollutants and reductions will benefit human health and ecosystems.

Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, European Commission said mitigation efforts must urgently be stepped up in the global energy sector and called on countries to work with the Coalition to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production.  

“We need a swift transition to a low-carbon and a more resource efficient economy to meet these goals. This also requires more action on short-lived climate pollutants,” Mr. Cañete said. “Given the scale of the challenge, the European Commission is exploring further ways to better measure and report methane emissions across all hydrocarbon industries and reduce methane emissions from energy production and use. There is still a significant potential to reduce emissions with low costs.”

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Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, European Commission

The Coalition’s goal is to reduce short-lived climate pollutants beyond recommendations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its special report Global Warming of 1.5˚C. According to the report, there need to be considerable cuts in emissions of black carbon (35 per cent by 2030), methane (37 per cent by 2030) and Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, (70 per cent to 80 per cent by 2050) if we are to keep warming below 1.5˚C. The control measures that the CCAC is working on can deliver all recommended methane mitigation (and substantially more with new research for agricultural methane), a 60 per cent reduction in black carbon emissions by 2030 – with up to 80 per cent possible – and a 90 per cent reduction in HFC emissions by 2050 and greater energy efficiency in the cooling sector.

Increasing action on short-lived climate pollutants can avoid an estimated 2.4 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution annually by 2030, prevent as much as 52 million tonnes of crop losses per year, slow the increase in global warming by as much as 0.6°C by 2050, and prevent climate tipping points that can exacerbate long-term climate impacts and make adapting to climate change harder, especially for the poor and most vulnerable.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which hosts the CCAC’s Secretariat, said the Coalition was tackling two of the world’s most serious threats – air pollution and the climate crisis – at the same time.

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Xie Zhenhua, Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs, China, delivers a key note address to launch the UNEP-CCAC-Tsinghua Report.

 “We need to urgently tackle climate change and keep temperatures from exceeding dangerous thresholds. Reducing short-lived climate pollutants is an essential ingredient of our strategy. Polluted air is killing millions of people around the globe prematurely and severely impacting their quality of life. The CCAC is addressing these two issues together. Action on either front contributes to the goals of the other.”

The benefits of integrating efforts on climate change and air quality by taking a whole of government approach was reiterated by Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative for Climate Change, as he launched a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Tsinghua University and the CCAC called Synergizing Action on the Environment and Climate Change. The report shows how policies that address both air pollution and climate change can effectively rally national, local and societal support for a low-carbon climate strategy because people can see immediate benefits to air quality, urban infrastructure and clean energy development.

“The work by China and other countries shows that fighting climate change will not damage our economies but instead push us to toward a low carbon transition and solve many other development and societal goals.” Mr. Xie said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization said more needs to be done to combat air pollution and climate change: “Air pollution kills 7 million people prematurely every year. The international response remains weak for both air quality and climate action. We need to agree unequivocally on the need for a world free of air pollution.”

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO)

Korea announced it was developing a resolution to the UN General Assembly calling for an International Day for Blue Sky to serve as platform for action, awareness and solutions. Mr. Sook Kim, Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Coordination Committee of Korea’s National Council on Climate and Air Quality said: “Tackling air pollution is a daunting challenge that will take time to accomplish. We can only achieve this if the international community works together as one.”

As the world warms demand for refrigeration and cooling will soar. The Coalition launched its Efficient Cooling Initiative this year to ensure that as the world phases down HFCs that replacement cooling technology is also highly energy efficient.

Japan’s Environment Minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, said Japan was committed to not just reducing the production of HFCs but was also investing heavily in helping countries recover HFCs from discarded cooling equipment.  

France called on countries to sign onto the Biarritz Pledge for Fast Action on Efficient Cooling, initiated during France’s Presidency of the G7 in Biarritz this past August. Several countries have already signed the pledge, which calls on countries to take ambitious measures to improve energy efficiency in the cooling sector and to support the Coalition’s Efficient Cooling Initiative.

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Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples, New Zealand

France’s delegate, Stéphane Pailler said: “The potential for significant growth in the cooling sector should prompt us to act. With all the countries supporting this commitment, we will take ambitious steps to contribute to the transition to more energy efficient and environmentally friendly solutions.”

Agriculture is one of the largest manmade sources of methane. Changes to the global agriculture and food system are necessary if we are to address climate change, eliminate hunger and halt biodiversity loss.

New Zealand called on countries to spur action by incorporating ambitious and directed inclusion of agriculture and food systems in enhanced nationally determined contributions (NDCs), ideally by 2020.

Aupito William Sio, New Zealand’s Minister for Pacific Peoples, said: “We need to achieve the needed level of transformation in ways that support small-scale farmers, improve the productivity of farms, build resilience, and significantly reduce emissions, particularly of methane and black carbon, across the entire agricultural system. There needs to be a much greater level of targeted investment in the sector, I urge you all to consider how we can make this happen.”

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Patrick Pouyanne, CEO, Total

Oil and gas production and distribution another large source of methane and black carbon – a climate problem that can be solved this decade. Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund’s, called on gas producing and consuming countries to commit to action and reduction targets of 45% by 2025 and 60% - 75% by 2030, or to a near zero methane intensity target for new developments.

“These targets are realistic and achievable especially in a sector where technology and financing are largely available, and innovation supports even larger reductions,” Mr. Krupp said. “Every oil and gas producing and consuming country can act and benefit. Countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions need to become explicit about oil and gas methane emissions.”

Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of Total, said: “We cannot do this alone. Involvement of government is essential to send the appropriate regulatory and economic signals to all concerned players. Strong and long-term policy support and regulations are critical to enable the oil and gas industry to invest in technologies and solutions.”

Monaco pledged 500,000 euros to the Coalition’s trust fund for work from 2020 to 2021. Sweden also pledged 3 million kronor and the Netherlands pledged funds for work on heavy-duty vehicles and municipal solid waste.

The Coalition welcomed the United Arab Emirates as a new partner at the meeting.  

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Michał Kurtyka, COP 24 President, Poland, and Carolina Schmidt, Minister of the Environment, Chile, and COP 25 President-designate

Closing the meeting, Michał Kurtyka, Poland’s State Secretary of Environment and President of COP 24, said that action on climate change has been great for Poland: “Our investment in climate solutions is bringing new industry to our country. Our people know now that climate action will be healthy, economical, reliable but most importantly it will bring jobs to them and their children.”

Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s Minister of Environment and COP25 President Designate, said that the science shows that the world needs to work on both non-carbon pollutants and greenhouse gases to ensure the world prevents climate change.

“We must people first when it comes to climate change. Climate action is not about cost it is about opportunities to make a better life. In Chile we know there is a strong link between air pollution and climate action. Santiago currently has the second largest fleet of electric buses in the world after China and people are celebrating this by choosing electric buses over all other transport systems,” Ms. Schmidt said. “We wait for all of you in Chile because now it is time for action.”

The Coalition passed its 2030 Vision acknowledging that its mission must be completed in the 10 years in order to keep warming to 1.5˚C and protect people and ecosystems from air pollution.

Additional Quotes

Health

Varawut Silpa-archa, Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said that following an air pollution event in Bangkok in early 2019, which led to an $85 million loss for the Thai economy, Thailand would synergize its domestic air pollution and climate change actions.

“Time is running out,” Mr.  Silpa-archa said. “Strong collaboration within our CCAC family is a key solution to scale-up actions to reduce air pollution and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Efficient Cooling

Germany announced that it would participate in the work on the CCAC's new Efficient Cooling Initiative and has earmarked a further 20 million euros for bilateral cooperation with partner countries, for the development of tailor-made solutions to reduce emissions and energy efficiency challenges in the sector.

Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, State Secretary for Environment, Conservation & Nuclear Safety, Germany said: “We want to play our part in ensuring that the initiated switch to climate-friendly refrigerants increases energy efficiency and thus at least mitigates the rising energy demand for air conditioning. Germany will continue to commit both funding and expertise to help secure the success of the coalition.”

Agriculture

Qu Dongyu, Director General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said: “The fight against climate change and hunger must be carried forward together. There are many practical options that improve resilience while reducing emissions in the agriculture, forest and land use and sector, and that there are economic, environmental and social co-benefits that can accompany more ambitious immediate action.”

Ola Elvestuen, Minister of Climate and Environment, Norway said agriculture and food systems are key to solving a lot of air pollution and climate change issues: “We need to be able to produce food in ways that help us achieve the goals we need to reach. There are enormous economic benefits to transforming our food system. We need healthier diets with less meat and we need to work with agro-business to reduce methane emissions and forest destruction.”

Oil and Gas

Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Eni, speaking on behalf of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) – a CEO led group of 13 oil and gas companies – encouraged countries to join the effort: “Reducing methane emissions to near zero continues to be a top priority for OGCI. Gas represents 22% of primary energy needs today, and its role is expected to continue to be central in meeting global energy demand in the next decades. To fully guarantee the benefits of the use of gas, this role has to go hand in hand with reducing its impact on global warming.”

Transport

Henrik Henriksson, CEO of Scania said: “We need to up the game and change quickly. We need to quickly transform away from fossil fuels to prevent both black carbon and CO2 emissions. Lets not wait for some silver bullet in future, lets act now.” Scania will initially focus on new forms of biofuels like gas from waste water and move toward improved electrification of vehicles.

 

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Family photo of the high level participants.

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