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Navigating the challenge of super pollutants: solutions and strategies

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Navigating the challenge of super pollutants: solutions and strategies

The 2024 Climate and Clean Air Conference, convened at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, served as a critical platform for stakeholders to collaborate and implement a shared agenda on mitigating key carbon-emitting sectors, including fossil fuels, waste, transport and agriculture.

SEI York researchers at the University of York, Caroline Sawe and Jenniffer Pedraza provide insights on the pivotal discussions and outcomes of the conference, focusing on the mitigation of super pollutants, or Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs).

Caroline Sawe, Jenniffer Pedraza / Published on 18 March 2024

Inger Andersen set the tone for the 2024 Climate and Clean Air Conference with a compelling message:

Just as we need a superhero to defeat a supervillain, we need super solutions to battle super pollutants. And we need you to mastermind these solutions.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme

This analogy highlights the urgent need to address SLCPs like methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons, which have a more potent heat-trapping ability in the Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2023 AR6 Synthesis Report underscores this urgency, indicating that without significant reductions in SCLP emissions, the likelihood of surpassing the 1.5°C temperature threshold is increased by 50%, even with strict CO2 reduction measures.

The conference underscored the necessity of immediate action to mitigate SLCPs and outlined strategies for reducing emissions, particularly in the sectors of clean cooking, waste management, and transportation. For instance, upscaling clean cooking technologies in developing regions was discussed, showcasing successful governmental and private sector collaborations in Asia and Africa.

Below are four key takeaways from the conference, offering a strategic blueprint for local and global reduction of super pollutant emissions:

1. Strengthen capacity building and technical assistance

Countries must enhance their capabilities to implement and enforce regulations that mitigate SLCP emissions effectively. By leveraging data and successful case studies, nations can develop robust frameworks for SLCP mitigation, ensuring policies are informed, impactful and localized.

2. Enhance stakeholder engagement

A comprehensive approach involving various stakeholders is vital for identifying practical and culturally sensitive emission reduction strategies. Engaging communities and integrating mitigation measures across health, industry and economic sectors can promote sustainable practices and cleaner technologies, like improved cooking methods, that resonate with local needs and capabilities.

3. Implement laws and regulations

Clear legal frameworks are essential for governing SLCP emission reduction. National and subnational plans must reflect the long-term vision aligned with 2030 and 2050 climate goals. Incorporating SLCPs into national policies, such as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Biennial Transparency Reports (BTRs), ensures accountability and progress tracking, fostering a regulatory environment conducive to sustained action against super pollutants.

4. Scale-up financing for SLCP mitigation

Prioritizing financial resources for SLCP mitigation can catalyze quick and effective solutions. Success stories in sectors like waste management, transportation and cooking should inspire further investment. Collaborative efforts between governments, the private sector and communities are crucial to transitioning from planning to tangible action, with a clear focus on climate finance inclusion for SLCP initiatives.

Topics and subtopics
Air : Pollution
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