In February, Secretary of State Clinton announced the formation of a coalition to address short-term climate forcers, which are dramatically accelerating the pace of climate change.
Reducing these short-lived pollutants - HFCs, black carbon soot and methane - are the world's best chance to keep of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees C, or even 1.5C.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Term Climate Pollutants concluded its first meeting yesterday in Stockholm, with new countries signing on and with a 5-Point Action Plan:
1. Reduce diesel emissions including heavy duty vehicles and engines.
Diesel emissions can be reduced through the freight transportation supply chain, through city action plans, and by reducing sulphur in fuels and vehicle emissions.
2. Upgrade old, inefficient brick kilns - a significant source of black carbon emissions.
Mexico, for example, has 20,000 small and medium-sized brick kilns, and Bangladesh has 6000 from the 1900s.
3. Accelerate reduction of methane emissions from landfills, responsible for 11% of global methane emissions.
The coalition will work with cities to improve strategic municipal solid waste planning, which, we assume includes landfill gas capture.
4. Speed up cuts in methane and other emissions from the oil and gas industry, which accounts for over 20% of global methane emissions.
Natural gas venting and flaring at oil installations generate methane and black carbon emissions. An estimated one third of leaks and venting can be cut using existing technologies at low cost.
5. Accelerate HFC alternatives.
HFCs are being rapidly introduced as replacements for phased-out chemicals that were causing the hole in the ozone layer.
HFCs were supposed to be temporary substitutes - the Coalition aims to fast track benign, cost effective alternatives.
6. Over the coming weeks, the Coalition will further develop a proposal by Ghana on agricultural/forest open burning and one from Bangladesh on cookstoves.
The Coalition launched with three developed country members - US, Canada, Sweden - and three developing country members - Mexico, Ghana, and Bangladesh, along with the United Nations Environment Programme.
Today, the European Union, Norway, Japan, Nigeria, Colombia, and the World Bank announced their membership, with many other countries poised to follow.
The EU called to address climate forcers last year.
The US and Canada is providing initial funding and today, Norway announced it would chip in. The World Bank announced it has $12 billion in its portfolio that can be contributed to Coalition goals, noting the need for urgent action.
Initial financing pledges stand at $16.7 million - significantly more funds are expected over the coming year.
"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," says Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.
"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%," he adds.
Facts on Climate Forcers
UNEP projects that reducing black carbon soot - created by dirty diesel engines and cookstoves used by billions of people in developing countries - would prevent at least 2.5 million deaths a year from indoor air pollution.
The black soot literally sits on the Arctic ice cap and glaciers - turning them black. When ice is black it doesn't reflect cold back into the atmosphere and melts much more rapidly.
HFCs are used as refrigerants and to make insulating foams - their precursor was banned as part of the successful Montreal Ozone Treaty. HFCs were accepted a temporary substitute because they have a smaller impact on the ozone layer - but they are very potent global warming agents. Industry has now developed alternatives, and they can be phased out.
Methane can be captured as used for energy. It comes from a variety of sources, such as landfills, coal mines, leaking oil/ gas pipelines, conventional agriculture, and feedlots. And it's produced from natural gas fracking.
Many of the actions needed to reduce these pollutants are no-cost or low-cost.
The US already invests $10 million a year to provide clean-burning cookstoves to the developing world through the The Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves, launched in 2010 by Secretary Clinton.
Unlike carbon forcers, carbon dioxide is a long-lived greenhouse gas. About half of all carbon remains in the atmosphere for roughly 100 years, but 20% stays for thousands of years.
Here's the Coalition website: