Market News

 February 16, 2012
US leads charge on black carbon reduction

The US is leading an international drive to tackle gases and particulates thought to account for about a third of global warming and also have significant negative health impacts.

Secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced today that the US will contribute $12m for the first two years of the five-year initiative, which will see the country team up with Canada, Sweden, Mexico, Ghana and Bangladesh under the administration of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Canada will also donate $3m, although the remaining countries' contribution to the initiative is unknown.

The money will go towards reducing black carbon or soot from traditional cooking fires and cooking stoves, as well as methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and ozone, which together are known as short-lived forcers of the climate.

The move follows two UNEP reports released last year, which called on nations to address the issue as a cheap and effective way of reducing projected global temperature rises by 0.5º Celsius by 2050, while also preventing millions of cases of lung and heart disease by 2030.

Rather than setting targets to reduce these emissions, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants programme will instead fund education initiatives and projects that introduce more efficient cooking stoves, halt the burning of agricultural waste and capture methane from landfill, coal mines and natural gas wells.

"The coalition is going to be aimed at action, at attracting high-level political support, mobilising resources, catalysing and helping to drive the... development and then the implementation of national action plans, and broadly raising public awareness about the impact of action in these areas," a senior administration official added in a telephone briefing.

"There are a number of countries we have already heard from that... have expressed interest, and I fully anticipate this small initial group of six will expand quickly."

Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, welcomed the programme, but said people should not assume it will deliver quick results or replace the efforts that big emitters -- including the US and Canada -- should be making to reduce their CO2 output.

"Deep and immediate carbon dioxide reductions are required to protect the climate over the long term," he said in a statement. "This cannot be achieved by addressing short-lived climate forcers alone.

"The science behind this new initiative is sound, but it does not support postponing immediate and aggressive global action on anthropogenic greenhouse gases."