Climate change is driven primarily by the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and sharply reducing CO2 emissions is the top priority in the effort to avoid dangerous long-term impacts. But pollutants that don’t remain in the atmosphere for long, such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and black carbon (soot), play an important role in the short term, with particularly large impacts in urban areas and sensitive regions such as the Arctic. They also affect human health, crop yields and ecosystems.
In February 2012, aiming to catalyze rapid action on these pollutants, the governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the U.S. and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC).
Since then, the coalition has grown to 66 partners: 33 countries and 33 intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. SEI, which coordinated two major scientific reports on SLCPs that have guided much of the coalition’s work, has been involved from the start, and has made it an institutional priority to support CCAC.
SEI Policy Director Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna, an expert in air pollution issues, sits on the coalition’s Science Advisory Panel, and he also leads an initiative to help countries develop SLCPs National Action Plans, and is coordinating a new regional assessment of SLCPs in Latin America and the Caribbean.
New tools to support national planning
As part of the planning initiative, SEI has developed a tool to assess the potential for mitigating SLCP emissions in each country, based on the institute’s Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) system, which is already used by thousands of planners and researchers around the world.
The new LEAP-SLCP tool is part of a CCAC National Action Plans “toolkit” that also includes a Rapid Benefits Calculator developed by SEI’s York Centre and the BenMAP-CE tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which focuses on the health benefits of reducing air pollution.
The toolkit got its first trial runs in the pilot phase of the national planning initiative, which began in January with four countries: Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana and Mexico. Initial results were presented at a CCAC meeting in Mexico City on July 22-26, where the coalition also approved $1.9 million USD in new funding to support additional countries’ national planning efforts.
Also at the Mexico meeting, CCAC members approved $1.4 million in new funding for a clean cookstoves initiative that supports regional testing centers to improve performance standards, a “Spark Fund” to support up-scaling of projects, and outreach and education. An additional $1.6 million was also awarded to CCAC’s brick kilns initiative, which is helping countries measure and address the large amounts of pollution created by dirty and inefficient brick kilns, and $400,000 was approved (building on $2 million of previous funding) to support the reduction of methane emissions from landfills.
“CCAC fits perfectly with SEI’s mission,” says Kuylenstierna. “It is trying to achieve action to reduce emissions, and helping developing countries reduce emissions while achieving development benefits – all closely informed by science.”
The coalition’s next scheduled meeting is in September in Oslo, Norway, with environment ministers and other senior officials from the partner countries. Both Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna and SEI Executive Director Johan L. Kuylenstierna plan to attend.
To learn more about CCAC, visit www.unep.org/ccac; a summary of the meeting is available here. To learn more about the LEAP-SLCP tool, email developer Charles Heaps. For an overview of the science of SLCPs and the benefits of addressing them, watch a video with SEI’s Kevin Hicks.