A U.S.-led six-nation climate and clean air coalition, dedicated to taking concrete action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, was launched in Washington, DC, on Thursday.
Besides the United States, Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico and Sweden are the founding coalition partners of the new global initiative to seize the opportunity of realizing concrete benefits on climate, health, food and energy resulting from reducing short-lived climate pollutants. The coalition will focus efforts on reducing black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane.
The U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) is going to be acting as the secretariat for this coalition.
Delivering opening remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the coalition - the first international effort of its kind - would conduct a targeted, practical, and highly energetic global campaign to spread solutions to the short-lived pollutants worldwide. It will mobilize resources, assemble political support, help countries develop and implement a national action plan, raise public awareness, and reach out to other countries, companies, NGOs and foundations, she added.
The foundation partners are committing more than $15 million for the operational cost of the initiative. The United States has pledged $12 million of new funding, while the rest will be contributed by Canada.
The first meeting of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition will be held in Stockholm in April coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference on Environment, the first Global Earth Summit. Ahead of the meeting, the coalition will be working to expand the group of countries contributing to it.
Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; The environmental Ministers from Bangladesh, Canada, Mexico and Sweden; Ghana's Ambassador to the U.S.; UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner; other Ambassadors and representatives from NGOs and the private sector attended the launching ceremony.
The focus is on reducing methane, black carbon and HFCs - hydrofluorocarbons. They are short-lived pollutants, which together account for more than a third of current global warming. They have significant impacts on public health, the environment and world food productivity.
It is estimated that fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants can have a direct impact on global warming, with the potential to reduce the warming expected by 2050 by as much as 0.5 Celsius degrees. At the same time, by 2030, such action can prevent millions of premature deaths, while also avoiding the annual loss of more than 30 million tons of crops. Moreover, many of these benefits can be achieved at low cost and with significant energy savings.
The new coalition is the first effort to treat these pollutants together, as a collective challenge. It will catalyze new actions and highlight and bolster the work of existing efforts such as the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, the Arctic Council, the Montreal Protocol, and the Global Methane Initiative (GMI). The coalition's work will augment, not replace, global action to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2).
The pollutants targeted by this initiative remain in the atmosphere for only a few days to a few years after they are emitted. This is very short when compared to CO2, which remains in the atmosphere for approximately a century. This "shorter" atmospheric lifetime means that actions to reduce emissions will quickly lower atmospheric concentrations of these pollutants, yielding a relatively rapid climate response.
by RTT Staff Writer
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