Eighteen months after being launched by a handful of partners, the now 72-member Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) gathered in Oslo, Norway, on 3 September for a one-day High Level Assembly culminating in an ambitious agenda for further action.
At the end of the meeting, the partners issued a joint communiqué reiterating their “firm commitment” taking “urgent action” to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and many hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), aiming to slow near-term climate change, improve air quality and public health, and strengthen food and energy security.
“We want to see other countries act,” said Bård Vegar Sohjell, Norway’s Minister of Environment. “We want to enable those with the will, but not necessarily the resources, to act. Concrete efforts in developing countries are important.”
Sohjell announced that along with strengthening its own national-level efforts, Norway was pledging an additional 110 million NOK (about 20 million USD) to reduce SLCPs, with a main focus on efforts in developing countries. The United States pledged an additional 5.5 million USD, and Japan, another 2.5 million USD.
“We must act together,” Sohjell added. “We must encourage each other. And we must challenge and support each other to do more.”
The high-level officials at the Assembly, representing many of the 72 partners of the CCAC, encouraged the rapid scale-up of the current CCAC initiatives to mitigate SLCPs, such as efforts to reduce methane and black carbon emissions from the oil and gas industry as well as from municipal solid waste and landfills.
The partners also agreed to support a phasedown in the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons under the Montreal Protocol, announced support of CCAC’s long-term goal to virtually eliminate fine particles and black carbon emissions from heavy-duty diesel vehicles and engines, and welcomed the Coalition’s efforts to help nations conduct national action planning on SLCPs. They also agreed to support the implementation of policies and technologies to modernize brick production worldwide.
“This meeting was a fantastic endorsement by Ministers and other senior officials of the work and progress of the CCAC,” said SEI Policy Director Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna, SEI’s lead representative in CCAC and a member of the CCAC Science Advisory Panel. “Of note was the emphasis on the opportunity to reduce impacts on human health, and the engagement of the World Health Organization (WHO), which will help quantify the benefits of taking action.”
SEI Executive Director Johan L. Kuylenstierna also attended the meeting, which he described as an “innovative and solutions-oriented platform for dialogue between scientists and policy-makers and other key actors”. SEI has been actively involved in CCAC since its inception, and along with its role on the Science Advisory Panel, SEI is leading some projects – most notably, the development of a benefits toolkit through a CCAC initiative to support national planning for action on SLCPs.
“The rapid growth, enthusiasm and potential for this Coalition to catalyse fast action across a range of sustainability challenges, including climate change, is one of the really positive developments of the past year,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner. “We are proud to have played a key role in this effort. Today important steps have been taken to scale up and accelerate the collective ambition of this unique and inspiring partnership as we seek to complement the wider work under the UN Climate Convention.”
At the meeting, WHO representatives noted the serious impact of SLCPs on health and the potential benefits from addressing the problem head-on. “Interventions to reduce SLCPs can yield major health benefits and prevent child pneumonia as well as non-communicable diseases like heart and chronic lung disease,” said Hans Troedsson, executive director of the WHO Director General’s Office. “SLCPs cause a particular burden on women and children in developing countries. A partnership between health, environment and other actors to reduce SLCPs, as facilitated by the Coalition, can bring synergies and enable multiple benefits for development, health and climate.”
Also at the meeting, the World Bank, another CCAC partner, released a report, Integration of short-lived climate pollutants in World Bank activities, describing its goals for SLCP reduction in its own portfolios, including integration of SLCP mitigation into development projects. The World Bank now encourages SLCP reduction potential in investments across a range of activities, such as bus and rail transport systems, solid waste collection and disposal, cookstoves, kilns, and rice irrigation and wastewater management.
“From our perspective, aggressive action on SLCPs, in tandem with addressing other pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, provides our clients time to invest and adapt [for economic growth],” said Rachel Kyte, vice president for sustainability development at the World Bank. “There are clear development benefits here that we should never lose sight of we’re working to help manage lives better.”