U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to create a task force to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs).
Peters’ bill, if passed by the full Congress, will bring together disparate government programs in the U.S. to make the effort to reduce SLCPs more effective in that country.
The fight against SLCPs—what Peters calls “super pollutants” because they are many times more powerful in their warming effects than carbon dioxide, despite the relatively short time they remain in the atmosphere—has been taken seriously by the Obama Administration, which was instrumental in forming the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC). SLCPs consist of black carbon, a major component of soot; hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in air conditioning, refrigeration and other common applications; and methane, of which landfills and some agriculture are large producers.
“Government at multiple levels is already beginning to address these super pollutants,” Peters said in announcing the bill, “but it is time to coordinate our efforts to maximize the effectiveness of the programs.”
The CCAC welcomed Peters’ initiative and its recognition that national action and leadership is essential to reduce SLCPs.
“Because of the leadership of the U.S. and a number of other forward-looking governments, the partner countries and institutions of the CCAC have been able to start making significant progress in reducing SLCPs,” said Kaveh Zahedi, Acting Head of the CCAC Secretariat at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) . “National action triggered by legislation like the one proposed in the U.S. is a key to making the transformational changes to bring the large-scale health and near-term climate benefits that the mitigation of SLCPs promises.”
The Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), a Washington, DC-based environmental and sustainability organization and partner in the CCAC, enthusiastically supported Congressman Peters’ action.
“The [proposed] task force can show the world how to cut climate change in half, save millions of lives every year, and improve crop yields,” said Durwood Zaelke, IGSD’s president. “Congressman Peters should be congratulated for promoting this critical climate strategy.”
Since its founding in February 2012, the CCAC has grown from its original six country partners (including the U.S.) and UNEP, to 61, including countries, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. It is currently leading nine separate initiatives to help the world reduce SLCP emissions.
It is important to note that, while reducing SLCP emissions contributes to staying within the 2°C target in the near term, long-term climate protection will only be possible if these measures are implemented in parallel with aggressive CO2 mitigation measures.