Strategy approved to significantly cut short-lived climate pollutants this decade


Ministers from 46 countries kicked off a new phase of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) at COP26 by approving the  Coalition’s 2030 strategy, which will see scaled-up efforts to significantly reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs)—methane, hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs), black carbon, and tropospheric (ground level) ozone—by 2030. 

The CCAC’s 2030 Strategy comes at a time when there are growing global concerns about methane emissions and increasing calls to urgently slow the rate of warming. The strategy plays on the Coalition’s strength of turning science into action. It aims to significantly reduce methane this decade in line with recommendations in the Global Methane Assessment and the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) Emissions Gap Report, and to speed up reductions of HFCs and black carbon. The Coalition will support the implementation of the Global Methane Pledge and assist all participants achieve its goal to reduce methane emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030.  

Ministers recognised that further reducing emissions of these powerful climate forcers is necessary to limit warming to 1.5⁰C and complements efforts to scale-up actions on carbon dioxide (CO2). Reducing these pollutants would also prevent millions of premature deaths from air pollution and advance the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The Ministerial was opened by the Coalition’s current Co-Chairs, Ghana and the United States.   

John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate said the Coalition has been instrumental at elevating short-lived climate pollutants from the margins to the centre of the climate change discussion.  

“Because of this Coalition the world is finally paying attention,” he said. “It is making a difference particularly in the unprecedented strength of the global momentum to tackle methane emissions. The CCAC’s collective diplomatic and scientific leadership has been instrumental in the development of the Global Methane Pledge. We need to step up ambition that’s why the CCAC’s Methane Flagship and other efforts will be critical.”  

Kwaku Afriyie, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, Ghana said the Coalition deserves time and investment and that Ghana will be making the case for stepping action at home and across Africa. “The Coalition has achieved a lot; a key achievement has been the Coalition’s support to developing countries to plan, build capacity, and take action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, and has demonstrated the positive impacts these efforts can have on Sustainable development Goals, particularly for public health and food security,” he added. “The CCAC is entering a new phase focused on implementation guided by the 2030 Strategy. I would like to call for maximum support in terms of finance, technology, and capacity building. Without the means to implement the activities in the strategy it will become another unfulfilled wish list. “Supporting the CCAC will unlock much greater action climate, air quality and development priorities as well as contributing to actions to achieve the Paris Agreement.”  

A focus on methane 

Methane emissions are rising at an alarming rate. Halting and reversing this trend is a priority focus for the Coalition going forward. 

Ministers approved the implementation of a Methane Flagship, which, starting in 2022, will foster and strengthen high-level commitments to reduce methane, amplify and raise awareness, support planning and delivery of strategies and plans, provide analysis and tools to support action, and scale up financing. 

There was strong and broad support for the recently launched Global Methane Pledge and ministers welcomed the CCAC having a leadership role in supporting its implementation. 

“To slow down global warming short-lived climate pollutants like methane need to be tackled,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission said. “The CCAC is an important forum for this. For that reason, we support the CCAC, in particular to implement the Global Methane Pledge.” 

Philanthropies have raised $328 million to ratchet up ambition on methane and support countries implement the Global Methane Pledge. Philanthropies were represented at the Ministerial by Hannah McKinnon of the Sequoia Climate Fund, Carrie Doyle from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Justin Johnson from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. 

“Effectively tackling methane can help supercharge our progress on climate change in this critical decade,” McKinnon said. “It will also improve the health and well-being of communities, especially those that contribute the least to the climate crisis but experience its harshest impacts. We look forward to supporting civil society, governments, researchers and more around the world to drive increasing ambition to tackle methane across sectors.” 

Reducing human-caused methane emissions will require action in the three main emitting sectors, agriculture, fossil fuels, and waste. The CCAC launched new work in each of these sectors and Ministers outlined actions they are taking in each. 

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