This story was originally published on the Climate and Clean Air Coalition website.
A group of philanthropies led by the Pisces and ClimateWorks foundations, in collaboration with many of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition partners, prepared the “The Madrid Call for Fast Action on Super Pollutants” and is inviting individual signatories to join. This appeal draws attention to the urgent need for cutting emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (also known as super pollutants), including methane, fluorocarbons, and black carbon. Taking fast action on super pollutants is absolutely necessary to reduce global temperature increases in the immediate future, and to curb the increasingly devastating health impacts of climate change among the most vulnerable in our society.
In particular, the signatories call on governments to devise super pollutant Fast Action Plans and include them in their revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which should be submitted by the time of COP 26 in November 2020.
Super pollutants are exponentially more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2), yet they remain in the atmosphere for a shorter period of time—meaning that action we take to limit super pollutants today can have substantial benefits in the near term. Limiting these powerful gases would slow down the rate of warming and reduce the risk of triggering dangerous climate tipping points—impacts that cannot be undone, such as runaway melting of polar ice in the immediate future. Super pollutants also cause air pollution, and some have been linked to serious health problems, including asthma, heart and lung diseases, cancer, and developmental disabilities in children. Swift action now will prevent more than 2 million premature deaths annually, promote sustainable development, and save billions of dollars in environmental damages on the path to climate stabilization. It will also ensure food security by preventing up to 135 million tons of crop losses annually.
“Slashing super pollutants is complementary to cutting CO2, and is the only way to turn down the heat on global warming in the next 20 years. It will drastically improve air quality, saving millions of lives,” remarked Drew Shindell, Professor of Climate Science at Duke University and Chair of the Coalition’s Scientific Advisory panel.
The Call for Fast Action also lays out specific opportunities to reduce super pollutants throughout the economy. These include:
- Eliminating soot from transport and households by adopting new standards; scrapping polluting vehicles, stoves and boilers; and banning ships with heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, all while developing goals for zero-carbon transport and households.
- Drastically reducing fugitive natural gas emissions throughout the oil and gas supply chains by stopping venting and flaring, using advanced sensing equipment to locate leaks, and implementing straightforward fixes.
- Fully implementing and enforcing the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol while improving the efficiency of the appliances that use them, actively deploying the use of climate-friendly replacements for refrigerants, and tackling gases already contained in equipment through a comprehensive approach to servicing, collection, and disposal programs.
“Although many NDCs include one or two super pollutants in their overall GHG targets, only 11 have super pollutant-specific targets, only eight also outline policies or actions to help achieve those targets, and only one plan covers more than two super pollutants,” said Romina Picolloti from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. “There’s a lot of opportunity for countries to improve by this time next year. The good news is that combating super pollutants is eminently feasible, and a fast way to limit temperature increases. The solutions are well known and tested, and implementation has started in many parts of the world. We can turn the corner on climate change starting right now, if more nations follow the recommendations in this call to action.”
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition maintains a comprehensive set of measures to reduce these pollutants. Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the United Nations Environment Programme hosted Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat said the world needs to act fast on these pollutants.
“Acting to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, or super pollutants, can rapidly reduce the rate of warming in the near term. This can help prevent dangerous climate feedbacks and protect the most vulnerable and must be done if we are to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, while providing development benefits,” Ms. Molin Valdés said. “The best thing about it is that there are technologically feasible and economically viable solutions. We are ready to work with countries and urge them to commit to reduce these pollutants in their NDCs.”
The Call for Fast Action is currently open and will remain open for additional signatories until COP 26 in November, 2020. To add your name in support of fast action on super pollutants, go to https://www.climateworks.org/superpollutants-call/.
The Madrid Call for Fast Action on Super Pollutants can be found here.