Last week, the State Department announced the formation of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (Coalition). In what many are calling a response to the extremely slow pace at which the international community is working to negotiate a global climate change treaty, the United States and five other countries are launching the program in an effort to reduce emissions of the most common short-lived, fast-acting climate change pollutants.
Representatives from Canada, Bangladesh, Ghana, Mexico, and Sweden joined Hillary Clinton in ushering in the effort which will target emissions of methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and black carbon, which are responsible for about one-third of the global warming problem. These three pollutants stay in the atmosphere for just days or years, unlike carbon dioxide, which remains for about 100 years.
The United States will contribute $15 million and Canada will give $2 million to initiate the program. This money will help to recruit other countries to participate and will begin to fund efforts like replacing traditional cookstoves with more efficient models, banning the open burning of agricultural waste, modernizing brick kiln, and capturing methane from coal mines, landfills and rice paddies. The coalition estimates that reducing emissions of these fast-acting pollutants could lower global temperatures by 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 – a fairly significant dent in the 2 degrees Celsius reduction below industrial levels scientists say will be required to thwart a climate change disaster.
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