COP21: Lima Paris Action Agenda, Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Focus Event

Reducing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants is key to keeping warming below 2°C

DSC03389-tn.jpg

The opening of the short-lived climate pollutants LPAA focus event.

Governments and industry leaders in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) committed to make further essential advances in reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) that have a global warming potential many times that of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2).

Opening the Focus Event on SCLPS under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) at COP21, UNEP's Deputy Executive Director, Ibrahim Thiaw said "SLCP reduction is an example for the integrated approach taken in the 2030 Development Agenda."

Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Dr Mario Molina explained the scientific rationale for action on SLCPs. “The consensus now is that it is very important to deal with both CO2 as well as short-lived climate pollutants,” Dr Molina said. “You can’t do one without the other. If you only deal with SLCPs in a couple of decades it won’t matter because CO2 will dominate. Dealing with SLCPs makes it easier for us to stay inside the 2°C limit.”

We have lost the luxury of pulling the CO2 lever to reduce warming. Fortunately SLCPs provide us with a second lever. We have two hands. We should be able to pull both levers down.
Veerabhadran Ramanathan
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said that a recent report by teams of University of California engineers, technologists, cognitive scientists, economists, and ecologists ranked reducing SLCPs along with CO2 at the very top of a list to reduce warming.

“We are now slowly realizing that we have delayed CO2 reduction by so long we have simply lost the luxury of pulling one lever to reduce warming,” Ramanathan said. “Fortunately SLCPs provide us with a second lever. We have two hands. We should be able to pull both levers down.”

SLCPs stay in the atmosphere for a shorter time than CO2, anywhere from a few days to a decade, but they have a global warming potential several times greater than CO2. Reducing these emissions also reduces the way they disrupt rainfall patterns and slows the melting of glaciers.

“SLCPs not only produce a strong global warming effect, they contribute significantly to more than 7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution. Reducing SLCPs can prevent approximately 3 million premature deaths a year,” said Dr Maria Neira, Director Public Health and Environment Department at the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Judi Wakhungu, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources said “Kenya is among the worst hit by adverse effects of pollution and climate change, both of which undermine our efforts to eradicate poverty and attain sustainable development.”

Reducing emissions of SLCPs - HFCs, methane, black carbon, and tropospheric ozone – is essential to keep the global temperature rise below 2°C and to improve air quality. Action in this area contributes to meet the main international climate change objective, improves public health, saves massive costs on medical care and avoids severe pollution damage to the environment, all at the same time.

Cutting back these gases also delivers high gains in energy efficiency and can deliver rapid gains in reducing the emissions footprint of highly-polluting industries through use of new and innovative technology.

Key Commitments made by sector

Reducing Hydrofluorocarbons HFCs by 30 to 50% from refrigerant servicing within 10 years

HFCs are gases typically used in cooling and refrigeration with Global Warming Potential (GWP) hundreds to thousands of times that of CO2. The phase-out of high-GWP HFCs from air conditioning alone will not only avoid the equivalent of 100 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050, but can also lead to more energy efficient air conditioners and related cuts in CO2 emissions.

As a Small Island Developing State, we face an existential threat from sea level rise. Any effort to rapidly reduce gases that have high Global Warning Power is vital for our survival.
Thoriq Ibrahim
Minister of Environment, Maldives

Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment, Maldives, said that his country was supporting a move to reduce HFCs through the Montreal Protocol: “As a Small Island Developing State, the Maldives faces an existential threat from climate change associated sea level rise. Any effort to rapidly reduce gases that have high Global Warning Power is vital for our survival.”

Kevin Fay, Executive Director of Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy said important progress to reduce HFC emissions by 80% by 2050 was made this November in Dubai when parties to the Montreal Protocol took a decision to work towards an amendment to achieve HFC reductions globally.

“There also has been significant progress in two private sector initiatives the formation of the Global Food Cold Chain Council and the Global Refrigerant Management Initiative,” Mr Fay said. “We are confident that with an HFC amendment and private sector actions like these we can achieve up to a hundred gigaton reduction in carbon equivalent emissions by 2050.”

UTC/Carrier joined to make commitments to reduce HFCs through the Global Food Cold Chain Council (GFCCC), and the Global Refrigerant Management Initiative (GRMI) which commits to:

  • reduce the use and emissions of high-GWP HFCs,
  • enhance energy efficiency and
  • reduce food loss in the cold food chain.

 

The GRMI objective is to achieve a 30-50% reduction in HFC emissions from refrigerant servicing within 10 years. Coca Cola reiterated its commitments as part of Refrigerants, Naturally! a Lima to Paris Action Agenda initiative that includes Greenpeace and UNEP as supporters. Unilever reported the actions and commitments of the Consumer Goods Forum, an industry network with a membership of over 400 companies in 70 countries.

A Green Freight Action Plan to fight black carbon and fine particle pollutants

A commitment to dramatically reduce emissions of CO2, black carbon and other pollutants in the freight sector by 2025 through a more efficient, cleaner & greener, multimodal, global freight supply chain is made at the SLCP Focus Event.  The LPAA initiative Global Green Freight Action Plan, gathers more than 20 countries, civil society organizations and 4 major companies (Volvo, Deutsch Post DHL, Ikea, and Hewlett Packard), and aims to double by 2018 the countries that are committed to establish new or enhance existing green freight programs or initiatives. By 2025, the top 100 global shippers will include black carbon mitigation efforts into their existing sustainability efforts.

The Global Green Freight Action Plan is led by CCAC, a voluntary, multilateral, multi-stakeholder global partnership. The transportation sector contributes about 19% of black carbon emissions in the world. Heavy-duty diesel vehicles, such as those used for freight transportation, have a disproportionate impact on climate and air quality.

“Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) supports the Green Freight Action Plan as a natural component of its commitment to supply chain sustainability through our GoGreen program, which aims to minimize our business operations’ impact on the environment,” said Professor Christof E. Ehrhart, Head of Corporate Communications and Responsibility for DPDHL.  “The Action Plan promotes the establishment, alignment, and harmonization of green freight programs covering greenhouse gases, Black Carbon, and other short lived climate pollutants. Collaboration within our supply chain is key to reduce our environmental footprint: We are actively working with our customers and our suppliers to make global supply chains more environmentally friendly. We support existing green freight programs and reach beyond by sharing knowledge and insights on tested technologies and bring green logistics to life already today.”

Oil and gas companies to measure and reduce methane emissions from operations

Oil and Gas company members of the CCAC Oil & Gas Methane Partnership, which include BP, BG Group, Eni, Pemex, PPT, Southwestern Energy, Statoil, and Total, commit to systematically survey and address nine key methane emission sources in their operations and to publicly report results. In addition, several companies under the CCAC Oil & Gas Methane Partnership commit to participate in a series of independent, third party methane emissions measurement studies to address a crucial lack of methane emissions data outside the US.

The oil and gas sector is widely considered to be the largest source of global anthropogenic methane emissions, a reason the International Energy Agency has identified reducing upstream methane emissions as one of five policy priorities for keeping the world on a 2-degree path.

Helge Lund, Chief Executive of BG Group said the practical initiatives undertaken by the Oil & Gas Methane Partnership, had demonstrated how the oil and gas industry will play a critical role in the solution to climate change. 

“The world is facing a new energy reality – an increasing demand for energy, with a need for lower emissions. Natural gas will play a critical role in addressing this challenge. It is much more climate friendly than coal, particularly when burned to generate power. But we also know that before the gas reaches the burner tip, some methane can be released and, as an industry, we can address this. We need to ensure that we do all we can to maximise the climate benefit that natural gas can deliver.” 

Over 50 cities to reduce emissions from municipal solid waste

The Municipal Solid Waste Initiative, also led by CCAC, aims to mitigate short-lived climate pollutants from the landfill sector. It is currently working with over 50 cities around the world to develop and implement sustainable waste management practices to reduce emissions from SLCPs. At the Focus Event, the initiative committed to mobilize 150 cities by 2020 to implement quantifiable actions that reduce emissions of SLCPs, and to work with this core group of local leaders to catalyse an additional 1,000 cities to do the same.

Landfills are the third largest anthropogenic source of methane, accounting for approximately 11% of estimated global methane emissions.

Gary Crawford, Vice President, Veolia, and Chair of the International Solid Waste Association said that at least 50 countries included municipal solid waste in their intended national determined contributions (INDCs) and many firms have come forward with their voluntary contributions.

“Veolia will do its part with a target to reduce 100 million tons of CO2 equivalent and avoid an additional 50 million tons of CO2 equivalent by 2020, in large part through the capture and utilisation of methane as an energy source,” Mr Crawford said.

Contact: Tiy Chung, Communications Officer, Climate and Clean Air Coalition: Tiy.Chung@unep.org.

Expert assistance

Our Expert Assistance is a no-cost service that connects you to an extensive network of professionals for consultation and advice on a range of short-lived climate pollution issues and policies.  

Experts will provide guidance on technological options, mitigation measures (like those carried out by our initiatives), funding opportunities, application of measurement tools, and policy development.

Request assistance

Back to Top