Reducing short-lived climate pollutants and considering multiple benefits are essential to raising ambition on climate change.
That was the essence of a closed-door Ministerial roundtable discussion held in Singapore yesterday at the start of Asia-Pacific Climate Week, as ASEAN ministers convene here for a special session on climate change.
Hosted by New Zealand and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the discussion was attended by Ministers and high-level representatives from 12 countries, and by Executive Secretary, UN Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa.
Many described actions already being taken in their countries on short-lived climate pollutants to harvest multiple benefits, making it clear that Coalition countries from the region are prioritising an integrated approach to tackling air quality and climate change simultaneously.
Ministerial roundtable discussion in Singapore, on the margins of the Special ASEAN Meeting on Climate Action
Another common theme was reframing the story: emphasizing the additional benefits of reducing these pollutants and air quality makes a compelling narrative for citizens to support ambitious action.
Cutting SLCPs, which include methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons, delivers clean air and quickly tangible results that people can feel and that helps to improve quality of life and reduce health hazards.
Dan McDougall of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and Patricia Espinosa of UN Climate Change address the roundtable.
Indeed, two other messages to emerge from the meeting was that reducing SLCP emissions should not be seen as a cost, but an opportunity, and that dealing with them eases the burden on adaptation as that could bring temperatures down more quickly.
The Coalition was praised for its efforts to bring SLCPs to the climate action table and for its Multiple Benefits Pathway approach, which is premised on the understanding that simultaneous action to cut both these short-lived pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions was necessary to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement– neither alone would be sufficient to head off dangerous climate change.
Espinosa later tweeted: “At gathering of Clean Air And Climate Coalition in Singapore, I made the case to create more synergies to step up ambition to tackle
#ClimateChange. Every action counts. @CCACoalition is an excellent example of what is possible.”
SLCPs have a shorter lifespan, but have “climate forcing” abilities many times that of carbon dioxide, and many contribute to the air pollution that causes 7 million premature deaths each year.
Many available measures to reduce these emissions are accessible and cost-effective, and, if implemented urgently, can bring immediate benefits, including the prevention of 2.4 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution by 2030, avoiding significant crop losses each year, and slowing the increase in near-term global warming by as much as 0.6°C by 2050.
That 0.6°C makes a huge difference, which is why, under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, countries have committed to keeping global temperature rise this century “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to “pursue efforts” to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C.
But, currently, collective pledged efforts, in the form of Nationally Determined Contributions, would still fall short of this goal, and closing this “emissions gap” would require urgently increasing ambition.
The Talanoa Dialogue under the UN Climate Change process was devised for countries to find ways to do this.
Nationally Determined Contributions deal largely or solely with carbon dioxide emissions, while some short-lived climate pollutants are dealt with under other conventions.
The meeting was held under the Chatham House Rule, and will inform a Coalition-led submission to the Talanoa Dialogue.
Asia Pacific Climate Week is happening now in Singapore. Latin American and Caribbean Climate Week 2018 will be convened from 20 to 23 August in Motevideo, Uruguay. Register here.