UNEP News Center: The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) has agreed to expand actions in cleaner transport, alternative refrigeration, agriculture, municipal solid waste management and methane reduction in the oil and gas sector.
Citing recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showing that approximately 7 million people die each year because of indoor and outdoor air pollution, the Coalition also agreed to launch a worldwide campaign to raise awareness of the health effects of air pollution and to prompt action to mitigate its effects.
Cutting emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), particularly black carbon, or soot, and methane, could save millions of lives and improve health. It could also help cut the rate of global warming by up to 0.5 degrees C, reduce crop losses by over 30 million tonnes a year, and improve sectoral growth.
The decisions were taken during a two-day meeting of the CCAC Working Group, the partner group that oversees the Coalition’s activities. The meeting was held at the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.
France, which is a partner of the Coalition, lent key support to the decisions to fund activities and launch the health campaign.
The CCAC health campaign will be conducted in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), a Coalition partner.
“New WHO evidence shows that air pollution is a key factor in one in eight deaths worldwide,” said Dr. Carlos Dora, Coordinator of the Health and Environment Department at WHO. “The benefits to health from reducing air pollution are not well known and need to be urgently disseminated.”
The health campaign will have the intensive involvement of a number of Coalition partners, headed by the government of Norway.
“The impact of air pollution on people’s health deserves the world’s attention,” said Marit Viktoria Pettersen, Senior Adviser on Climate Change to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “As we know from the WHO study, air pollution is one of the biggest causes of disease and death today, with women and young children particularly at risk. Norway wants to see more attention to this issue internationally. We need fast and firm action, as it may save millions of lives.”
The Coalition approved funding of approximately $10 million for activities to improve climate and agriculture, as well as health, through reduction of short-lived climate pollutants. These range from efforts to reduce methane emission from paddy rice production, to HFC replacement technology demonstration projects, to the inauguration of a global strategy for ports and maritime vessels and raised clean fuel and vehicle standards in Western and Southern Africa.
“We’re now getting into the phase of real action on the ground with these initiatives,” said Bahijjahtu Abubakar, National Coordinator of the Renewable Energy Programme of Nigeria and co-chair of the CCAC Working Group. “We are seeing real progress, and I am especially pleased with the impact we are having in developing countries on reducing poverty and improving health. Having WHO’s support is extremely important for us, and it shows that SLCP reduction produces not only climate benefits but also health improvement and sectoral growth.”
On agriculture, the new work approved will mobilize farmers, investors, governments and others to reduce methane emissions from paddy rice production. This will also help improve crop yields and save water resources. The activities in the first phase will focus on Asia and Latin America.
The Coalition is working to avoid the wide-spread use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as replacement chemicals in refrigeration systems and other sectors. Studies indicate that if HFCs become widespread by 2050, they will increase rapidly the emissions equivalent to up to 19 percent of CO2 emissions.
Three demonstration projects were approved by the CCAC to test technologies of climate-friendly alternatives that can become commercially viable in refrigeration and air-conditioning in Chile, Jordan and India.
Flaring and venting from oil and gas represent 20 percent of global anthropogenic methane emissions, second only to agriculture. The Coalition will work with industry in a high-powered methane partnership to measure and reduce such emissions, and to quantify opportunities to recover hydrocarbon liquid commodities from venting and flaring through reducing black carbon, starting in Colombia and Mexico.
On the subject of municipal waste, the Coalition built on successful work to date and launched a phase III project that will reach out to more cities and finalize tools to facilitate waste management strategies.
The heavy-duty diesel initiative received approval to address two areas: emissions from port facilities and marine vessels, and fuel standards in the Western and Southern African regions, where there is significant need and opportunity for improved climate and health benefits through major black carbon reductions from diesel engines. The CCAC has recently been involved in a very promising effort to bring low-sulphur fuel to East Africa.
“We are especially excited about expanding our work at the city level, where air quality is of the essence,” said Helena Molin Valdes, head of the Coalition secretariat at the United Nations Environment Programme. “The new work will provide knowledge and evidence to make critical advances toward reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, and as we move toward the UN Climate Summit and the next two major climate conferences in Peru and France, the practical results and potential for scale-up can help inform the agreements.”
The Coalition’s Scientific Advisory Panel laid out its agenda for the near future, which focused on the issues of hydraulic fracturing, kerosene lamps, hydrofluorocarbons, health and short-lived climate pollutants, and conducting an assessment of tools for quantifying the geographic influence of black carbon.
The Coalition approved five new partners, including the Asian Institute of Technology, the European Investment Bank, the FIA Foundation, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Partners WHO, Peru and France addressed the Working Group with descriptions of their accomplishments to date on reducing SLCPs. The Coalition has grown more than tenfold since its founding two years ago and has raised more than $47 million to fund its operations.
“The rapid growth of the Coalition is evidence that partners are really eager to make a dfference,” said Annika Markovic, Sweden’s ambassador to the OECD and co-chair of the CCAC Working Group. “They are looking for a platform to achieve concrete results, and that is why they have been able to support this work so strongly.”
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