The Climate and Clean Air Coalition: One Year On and Growing Fast!

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants paused from its breakneck growth in March 2013 to acknowledge its first anniversary. And then it kept right on growing, adding the governments of New Zealand and Poland, along with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, as Partners. The Coalition’s partnership now numbers 60 state and non-state entities.

The Coalition, whose Working Group of partners met at Coalition headquarters in Paris on March 7 and 8, has increased nine fold in size since its founding in February 2013. Its rapid growth signals the recognition by governments and international and nongovernmental organizations that short-lived climate pollutants, or SLCPs – the black carbon, methane and some hydrofluorocarbons that last from weeks to a few years in the atmosphere but carry a high degree of risk for health, agriculture and the climate – are serious problems that need to be addressed.  

At the Working Group meeting, the partners decided on the Coalition’s priority areas, goals and key milestones for 2013. The Coalition also approved two additional strategic streams of work, or initiatives, to be added to the seven already approved by ministers in Stockholm in April 2012. The new initiatives, slated for rapid implementation, focus respectively on reducing SLCPs from household cooking and domestic heating and on SLCP regional assessments.

The Coalition agreed on the next tranche of actions to be undertaken under five of its initiatives to continue scaling up efforts. The actions included, among others, specific activities  to:

  1.  mitigate black carbon and other pollutants from brick production, including program development and in-person strategy sessions, 
  2. reduce SLCP emissions from municipal solid waste, including sustainable financing models for cities’ municipal solid waste and energy recovery projects, 
  3. lower black carbon emissions from heavy duty vehicles and engines, including development of a Global Green Freight Declaration and Charter and of a Global Sulfur Strategy, as well as a number of projects at the city and national level in Africa, Asia and Latin America, 
  4. promote HFC alternatives and standards, including inventories and information dissemination activities, and 
  5. assess  the SLCP problem and opportunities in Latin America.

Partners spoke enthusiastically of work they were doing to reduce SLCPs. Switzerland, for example, retrofitted some 20,000 vehicles and machines to achieve significant black carbon reductions. The World Bank committed to increase the SLCP-reducing share of its IDA/IBRD portfolio to 15 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. Bangladesh announced the establishment of an SLCP national action planning process and the preparation of a low-emission development strategy, along with increased effort to disseminate clean cookstoves in the country. Japan announced a pledge of US$2.5 million annually to the Coalition’s Trust Fund.

The Coalition gave enthusiastic backing to the increased involvement of its Scientific Advisory Panel. The SAP, a group of highly qualified scientists from around the world, is charged with keeping the Coalition abreast of the latest scientific development related to SLCPs and responding to specific questions of the Partners and initiatives. . The SAP noted the latest findings on SLCPs, including that the global benefits of reducing black carbon may be larger than previously expected, that there is new data showing that black carbon from kerosene lamps is a major source of black carbon globally, that the impact of SLCPs on future climate may be underestimated, and that, of the 20 leading risk factors leading to global deaths, indoor and outdoor pollution, considered jointly, comes in at number two.

The Coalition intends to carry its campaign for SLCP reduction to various events around the world in 2013, focusing on health, agriculture, and the development communities. Because the Coalition aims for its website visitors as well as media coverage to double in 2013, the Working Group gave a green light for expanded communication efforts.

Co-chair Bahijjahtu Abubakar, National Coordinator for Nigeria’s Renewable Energy Program, said at the end of the discussions, “I think this Working Group meeting puts us on good footing for making 2013 an even more successful and impactful year, resulting in significant, real-world emissions reductions.” Delegates left enthusiastic about the Coalition’s prospects going forward.

The Working Group will meet again in July in Mexico to take stock of progress and consider new ways to move its agenda forward.