Coalition looks to industry to clean up some climate-warming emissions

Scientists say that these efforts will fall short


Soot particles from ships' exhaust, such as those in the plume shown here, fall to the ground in the Arctic where they draw in heat. (FILE PHOTO)

Soot particles from ships’ exhaust, such as those in the plume shown here, fall to the ground in the Arctic where they draw in heat. (FILE PHOTO)

Ministers, heads of non-governmental organizations, and other high-level members of the “voluntary and action-oriented” coalition to reduce short-lived climate pollutants repeated their “firm commitment to work together to address near-term climate change, improve air quality and public health, and strengthen food and energy security.”

In their Sept. 3 statement released at the end of their meeting in Oslo, Norway, partners in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition — started by the United States, Canada and four other governments and the United Nations Environment Programme in 2012 — say they’ll meet their goals by taking “urgent action.”

This will include voluntary efforts to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants like soot, methane, high level ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons used in air conditioners, freezers and refrigerators.

“We recognize the need for these actions to complement ambitious global reductions of long-lived greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide to fully address the issue of climate change,” said the Oslo meeting participants, who included Nunavut MP and federal environment minister Leona Aglukkaq.

But any actions will be strictly voluntary on the part of 72 partners in the coalition, which includes 34 countries and 38 organizations.

The coalition says it wants to scale up global efforts to slow down global warming by up to .5 C by 2050.

To that end, the coalition has launched 10 “high-impact global initiatives,” including seeking reductions on emissions of soot and methane from oil and gas producers.

“We commit to enhance high-level outreach to oil and gas companies to undertake upfront, voluntary commitments to use ‘best-in-class’ methane
reduction methods,” said the coalition statement.

And some of the richer nations in the coalition, like Norway, are willing to pay to help poorer developing countries to act.

“We must act together. We must encourage each other. And we must challenge and support each other to do more,” said Bård Vegar Sohjell, Norway’s environment minister.

But a study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said a “comprehensive climate policy” to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions is needed, rather than targeted reductions of methane or soot.

“Reductions of methane and black carbon [soot] would likely have only a modest impact on near-term global climate warming,” the study said. “Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, both long- and short-lived, need to remain the central focus of any climate-mitigation policy that aims to stabilize the climate system.”

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