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CCAC: “We have the proven technologies”: Tackling Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) hosted a session at the Cities & Regions Pavilion – TAP2015 at COP21 on Thursday 3 December.  Entitled “What cities can do to improve climate and clean air,” the session allowed participants to share experiences on reaching climate and clean air objectives through the targeting of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs).

Dr. Carlos Dora (Coordinator, Interventions for Healthy Environments, World Health Organization) opened the session by pointing out that air pollution causes seven million deaths each year, killing as many people as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV combined. Air pollution is increasing in developing cities and decreasing in developed cities, making air pollution an equity issue. There is a also a clear link between climate change and air pollution: the same areas (transport, energy, cooking and so on) contribute to both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The WHO has therefore produced a report with the CCAC detailing what cities can do in regards to Household Fuel Combustion. Suggested solutions include the production and use of efficient cookstoves, and the greening of urban transport.

A common theme of the presentations was the availability of solutions and technologies. Drew Kodjak, (Executive Director, International Council on Clean Transportation) stated: “the technologies are available to clean up all vehicles, to reduce emissions to virtually nil. Cities are an excellent place to do that.” A number of options are available: for instance, Delhi has changed its fleet from diesel to natural gas. It is also possible to install filters on diesel trucks and to transition to electric vehicles. In addition, diesel standards are extremely effective for reducing SLCPs, as shown in the image below.

Gary Crawford (Vice President of International Affairs, Veolia, France; and Chair of the International Solid Waste Association Working Group on Climate Change and Waste Management) agreed with Kodjak: “we have the proven technologies”. He presented the CCAC’s Municipal Solid Waste Initiative, which stems from the need to reduce methane emissions. Landfills are the third largest source of anthropogenic methane globally. The waste sector, however, has developed great expertise in integrated solutions with many co-benefits, including waste-to-energy from methane capture and solutions to reduce black carbon from the burning of waste.

The CCAC’s initiative helps cities to move up through the waste hierarchy. Actions include eliminating the open burning of waste, capturing and using landfill gas and implementing segregated household collection across cities. The CCAC aims to scale up the initiative to work with 1000 cities and thus benefit 200 million people worldwide.

Finally, Pål Rasmussen (Secretary General, International Gas Union) showed how cities were already making huge gains by changing from coal to natural gas. Istanbul, for example, had halved particulate matter concentrations between 1990 and 2007, while Toronto’s decision to phase out coal in 2004 was having a direct impact on emissions and health, significantly reducing air-pollution related deaths and hospitalizations.

In a short discussion following the presentations, Kodjak reiterated that opportunities existed for cities to make a major contribution on SLCPs. On the topic of low sulphur, he concluded on a note that summarized the key message: “the fuel is going to come: now it is up to cities to require high standards for their vehicles”. Tackling SLCPs can complement climate change mitigation while bringing extensive co-benefits, and an ever-increasing number of technologies and platforms are available to make this a reality.

About the Organizer

The CCAC is the only global effort that unites governments, civil society and private sector in improving air quality and protecting the climate in by reducing short-lived climate pollutants across sectors. It acts as a catalyst to create, implement and share immediate solutions addressing near-term climate change to improve people’s lives rapidly, and to ensure sustainable development for future generations.