Market News

 May 01, 2012
Second Front Opened in Climate War

 The second front in the war against climate change just got major reinforcements in the effort to reduce black carbon (soot), methane, and hydrocarbons (HFCs), collectively known as short-lived climate pollutants because they remain in the air to warm the Earth for only a few days to a decade and a half.

Reducing them can cut the rate of global warming by half or more for the next 30 to 40 years, providing critical protection for the Arctic, Himalayas, and other vulnerable regions, while saving millions of lives a year and reducing crop damage, providing a substantial boost for development.

The European Union, Norway, Japan, Nigeria, Colombia, and the World Bank announced today that they have joined the Clean Air and Climate Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants, launched in February by three developing (Mexico, Ghana, and Bangladesh) and three developed countries (Sweden, US, and Canada), along with the United Nations Environment Programme.

The Coalition concluded its inaugural Ministerial meeting in Stockholm this week. Many other countries are poised to join shortly.

Initial funding for the Coalition has been provided by the US and Canada. Sweden and Norway announced today that they were contributing as well. The World Bank announced they have $12 billion in their portfolio that can contribute to the Coalition goals, and noted the need for urgent action to reduce the short-lived climate pollutants.

To support the Coalition's efforts, a new Trust Fund managed by a UNEP-hosted secretariat was agreed to. Initial financing pledges for the Coalition now amount to some $16.7 million with significantly more funds expected over the coming 12 months.

Five initiatives aimed at accelerating and scaling-up action against the short-lived pollutants were approved by the Ministers meeting in Stockholm yesterday and today.

Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, who attended the inaugural meeting in Stockholm, stated, "The Coalition may be the single most important development for climate protection in the past ten years. It focuses on fast-action climate mitigation that can be done today with existing technologies by willing partners.

It has the potential not only to reduce a major part of climate pollution, but to build the momentum and confidence we need to successfully manage carbon dioxide from energy production, which is essential for keeping the Planet's long term temperature increase to an acceptable level."

Many scientists calculate that global temperature cannot increase more than 2C above pre-Industrial levels without risking major and perhaps catastrophic climate impacts, including devastating sea-level rise and punishing storm surges, as well as droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events. Major cuts in carbon dioxide are essential to stay below 2C in the longer term, along with cuts to the short-lived climate pollutants.

Science Advisory Panel

Sound science has underpinned the formation of the Coalition and will guide its work into the future. Ministers today asked three luminaries involved in short lived climate pollutant work to advise them on the formation of a dedicated world-class Science Advisory Panel to provide scientific advice to the Coalition.

The advice will be provided by Drew Shindell of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Mario Molina, the distinguished Mexican chemist and 1995 Nobel Prize co-winner and Veerabhadran Ramanathan, chair of the UNEP Atmospheric Brown Cloud project based at the University of California San Diego.

Zaelke said, "To win the climate war, we need to cut both the short-lived climate pollutants and long-lived carbon dioxide, the most damaging gas. Fortunately, we're gaining allies quickly in the second front in the fight against black carbon, methane, and HFCs. A victory on this front will build the confidence we need to win the war."

The short-lived climate pollutants are responsible for 40 to 45% of all warming, with carbon dioxide, a substantial portion of which remains in the air for millennia, responsible for the other 55-60%.