As Climate Impacts Accelerate, Speed of Mitigation Becomes Key
Bad news can be paralyzing, and that's a problem when it comes to climate change. The steady drumbeat of bad news can numb us. We've recently learned that a large part of the West Antarctica ice sheet is disintegrating and cannot be stopped, with ten feet or more of sea-level rise now inevitable. More recently we learned the bad news from the U.S. climate assessment, confirming that climate impacts have moved "firmly into the present," with costs mounting quickly -- more than $100 billion in the U.S. alone in 2012 -- and a near certainty that things will get worse quickly.
In the face of this news, the U.S. risks moving from climate denial to climate despair--that citizens can do little to stop impacts, that government doesn't have the political courage needed to adequately address the problem, and that industry genius will falter and not develop the technologies to solve climate change in time to avoid the worst impacts. To avoid this it would be extremely helpful to implement fast mitigation that shows near-term improvements in the climate, on a timescale relevant to politicians' short election cycles, and that can demonstrably reduce impacts and the risk of passing dangerous tipping points that set off self-amplifying warming that feeds on itself.
Can any strategy produce such fast results? Read more from Mario Molina, V. Ramanathan, and Durwood Zaelke’s Huffington Post Op-Ed here.
EPA to Ban HFCs in Cars, Grocery Stores for Fast Climate Mitigation
Washington, DC, July 11 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday a proposal to ban the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) where climate-friendly alternatives are available, starting with mobile air conditioners, food refrigeration systems, foam blowers, and aerosol propellants, as industry leaders have successfully developed and implemented alternatives in these sectors. The EPA’s bans will cut the equivalent of 42 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
This is the second major step in the EPA’s continued effort to reduce HFCs, referred to as “super greenhouse gases”, under President Obama's Climate Action Plan. It follows a complementary proposal two weeks ago to approve new climate-friendly alternatives under EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program. The US is pursuing aggressive action to phase down HFCs internationally as well, including proposing a global phasedown of HFCs under the under the Montreal Protocol. Fast reductions in HFCs globally by 2020 could provide the equivalent of up to 200 billion tonnes of CO2 in mitigation by 2050.
“The more the US does to reduce HFCs at home, the more credibility it has when it asks the rest of the world to follow its lead,” said IGSD’s President Durwood Zaelke. “The EPA bans will knock out a major part of the HFC problem in the US, and demonstrate to other countries that superior alternatives are already available.” Read more of IGSD’s Press Release here.
UNEP Mandate: Combat Air Pollution, Save Millions ofLives, Cut Global Warming in Half
On June 23 to 27, the inaugural UN Environment Assembly, attended by high-level delegations from 160 States, gave the UN Environment Programme a mandate to combat air pollution, which will save millions of lives every year and cut global warming in half in the near-term.
Among the sixteen decisions and resolutions to strengthen environmental protection and promote sustainable development, air pollution was targeted as a top priority because it is now the world’s single largest preventable health risk. According to the World Health Organization, one in eight deaths in 2012 was from air pollution—more than malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS combined.
The Environmental Assembly’s resolution strengthens UNEP’s ongoing air pollution programs, including its work through the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles, and the Atmospheric Brown Cloud program.
“Fast action to reduce SLCPs can cut the rate of climate change in half, slowing global temperature rise by up to ~0.6°C by 2050 and 1.5°C by 2100, while preventing 2.4 million air pollution-related deaths per year, and avoiding around 30 million tonnes of crop losses annually,” said Durwood Zaelke, IGSD President, speaking at a CCAC side-event at the Environmental Assembly.
The CCAC also launched its new publication, Time to Act, to explain the benefits of cutting the four SLCPs—black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, the main component of urban smog, and hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, used primarily as refrigerants. Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
Bipartisan Team to Introduce Super Pollutants Act to Cut HFCs, Black Carbon, Methane
Goal is fast mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants
Can provide six times more climate benefit than CO2 cuts in near-term
Washington, DC, 26 June 2014 – Senators Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Collins (R-Maine) announced today their plans to introduce the Super Pollutants Act of 2014 to cut short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) by requiring the Administration to establish a task force to review specific policies and laws to reduce black carbon, methane, and high-global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). SLCPs currently account for 40% or more of global warming. Because they are fast acting, they can provide more than half the solution needed to stay below the 2°C guardrail through the end of the century. It is essential to also reduce CO2 emissions to stay within the 2°C guardrail.
The proposed legislation will reinforce the Administration’s international efforts to reduce SLCPs. “The Super Pollutants Act will accelerate and coordinate Administration efforts already underway to reduce SLCPs”, said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke, and “this will reinforce the President’s international leadership on this critical climate strategy. It’s essential to reduce SLCPs along with carbon dioxide to keep the climate within safe bound, but in the near-term through 2050, reducing SLCP can avoid six time more warming that an aggressive CO2 mitigation strategy can avoid.” Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
G-7 Urges Ambitious Climate Action, Including HFC Cuts
On June 5, leaders of the G-7 affirmed their support for ambitious actions to mitigate climate change in the Brussels G-7 Summit Declaration, including reducing HFCs. The G7 also will begin mobilizing resources under the Green Climate Fund and support committing $100 billion per year by 2020 to help with mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. The G-7 also reaffirmed their support for phasing down production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, and for enhancing energy efficiency:
We will work together and with others to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) under the Montreal Protocol. We will also continue to take action to promote the rapid deployment of climate-friendly and safe alternatives in motor vehicle air-conditioning and we will promote public procurement of climate-friendly HFC alternatives.
The G-7 declaration follows the G-20 commitment to cut HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, and compliments recent efforts by the EU to cut HFCs by 80% by 2030, and efforts by the US EPA to start restricting HFCs. “The Montreal Protocol can quickly and effectively eliminate the climate threat from one of the six main greenhouse gases,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “HFCs are the fastest growing greenhouse gases in the world, and sending them out of the universe is the biggest, fastest and cheapest climate mitigation opportunity available to the world today.”
See the G-7 Brussels Declaration here.
China Announces Aggressive Cuts to HFCs
Washington, DC, 28 May 2014 - China announced an aggressive target for reducing HFC emissions by the equivalent of 0.28 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2015. The State Council released the HFC target to the public on 26 May 2014. It appeared on 15 May 2014 in the 2014-2015 Energy Conservation, Emissions Reduction and Low Carbon Development Action Plan.
"China should be congratulated for its strong HFC target, which sets an example for the rest of the world to get on with the job of phasing out HFCs with high global warming potential,” stated Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) liaison to the Department of Defense (DoD) for climate and ozone, and former co-chair of the Technology & Economic Assessment Panel of the Montreal Protocol. “China’s action makes it increasingly inevitable that HFCs will be phased down under the Montreal Protocol, and soon.” Read more from IGSD’s press release here.
Insurance Leaders Call for Urgent Actions Against Climate Risks
On May 16, 66 CEOs of the world’s leading insurance companies issued the Climate Risk Statement of the Geneva Association, expressing serious concerns about the devastating consequences of extreme climate change, and calling for urgent climate mitigation actions by policymakers and other bodies. With assets totaling nearly $15 trillion, the leaders of insurance companies committed to supporting the development of low carbon energy projects and the implementation of sustainable practices, such as energy efficiency building codes. “Insurance companies have the capacity to influence both the industries they insure and the policymakers who set the rules to reduce climate pollution,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “The insurance industry has a critical role to play in slowing climate change.”
See the Climate Risk Statement of the Geneva Association is here.
Micronesia, North American Countries Propose HFC Cuts under Montreal Protocol
On May 16, the Federated States of Micronesia filed a formal proposal to phase down production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. The North American countries (US, Canada, and Mexico) filed a similar proposal. In a related domestic action earlier in May, the U.S. EPA targeted HFC reductions through its Significant New Alternatives Policy Program, proposing both to add new climate friendly refrigerants and to remove from the list of acceptable alternatives several HFCs with high global warming potential. The rules will likely revoke approval for HFC-134a.
"The U.S. proposed rules are already sending a powerful signal to global markets," said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke, “and this is helping build the consensus for phasing down HFCs globally under the Montreal Protocol.”
Climate Change Is “Conflict Catalyst”, Threat to National Security
On May 13, In addition to being a threat multiplier, extreme weather, drought and flooding, and other climate impacts can catalyze instability and conflict especially in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, according to a report released by the CNA Corporation’s Military Advisory Board, an elite group of retired three- and four-star flag and general officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps that studies pressing issues of the day to assess their impact on America’s national security.
The Military Advisory Board found that the accelerating pace of climate change and its impacts pose a severe danger to U.S. national security interests both domestically and abroad, especially to military, infrastructure, economic, and social support systems. At the same time, increasingly severe and frequent weather events are projected to increase the need for emergency assistance while taxing the military’s ability to respond. Melting Arctic sea ice poses a political challenge to the U.S. as well, as the Arctic region becomes increasingly available for shipping, fishing, and resource uses in areas that were historically inaccessible.
“This report will help the military prepare to operate in the climate stressed world of the future, where the frequency and severity of climate disasters continue to grow”, stated Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, IGSD Director of Research. “The militaries of the world can help reduce climate emissions, including HFCs and other short-lived climate pollutants such black carbon and methane. The voice of the military will help persuade policymakers that the time to act is now.”
See National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change here.
Fast HFC Phase-Down Could Avoid 200 Billion Tonnes of CO2–eq by 2050
Fast action under Montreal Protocol can eliminate climate threat from one of the six main greenhouse gases
Washington, DC, 12 May 2014 – A fast phase-down of factory-made HFCs could avoid the equivalent of as much as 200 billion tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2-eq) by 2050, according to a study published today in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, by Guus Velders, Susan Solomon, and John Daniel, Growth of climate change commitments from HFC banks and emissions.
The HFC reductions could be achieved quickly and inexpensively with a leap-frogging strategy where countries currently phasing-out hydroclorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) under the Montreal Protocol leap frog over HFCs and use already available climate-friendly alternatives. President Obama has made the phase down of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol a central part of his Climate Action Plan. In pursuit of this goal, the U.S., Mexico, and Canada filed a proposed amendment last week to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. HFCs were also an important part of the UN Secretary General’s Abu Dhabi Ascent earlier this month.
“A phase down of HFCs through a leap frogging strategy would quickly and effectively eliminate the climate threat from one of the six main greenhouse gases,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “HFCs are the fastest growing greenhouse gases in many countries including the U.S., E.U., China, and India.” Between 2006 and 2010 global HFC emissions grew at a rate of 10-15% per year, and according to recent U.S. EPA estimates, HFCs were the only category of greenhouse gases in the U.S. that increased in 2012. The growth in HFCs is being driven by the previous phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and the ongoing phase-out of HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol. Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
Cutting Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Central Strategy in Abu Dhabi Climate Ascent
Washington, DC, 6 May 2014 - The message was clear coming out of the May 4 & 5 Abu Dhabi Ascent in the to the UN Secretary General's Climate Summit in September: time is running out to take necessary action to prevent the worst predicted impacts of climate change, but real solutions exist to fight back. Attended by more than 100 ministers, the ascent is part of the U.N. Secretary-General's effort to build momentum for a strong climate treaty in Paris by the end of next year, by highlighting concrete mitigation actions, including actions to reduce both carbon dioxide and short lived climate pollutants, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon, and methane.
"Cutting short-lived climate pollutants could cut the current rate of climate change in half by 2050, while preventing more than two million deaths a year from air pollution, and avoid around 35 million tonnes of crop losses annually," stated Durwood Zaelke, who attended the ascent. "When Ban Ki-moon asks for practical action to combat climate change, the work of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants must be a central part." Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
New National Climate Assessment Cries Out for Fast Mitigation
Climate Costing U.S. $100 Billion A Year
Fast cuts to HFCs, methane, and black carbon essential
Washington, DC, 6 May 2014 – The last decade has been the hottest on record in the U.S., periods of extreme heat now last longer than any living American has ever experienced, rainfall is becoming both more intense and more erratic, and sea-level rise and storm surges threaten thousands of coastal communities. According to the third U.S. National Climate Assessment released by the Obama Administration today, these and many more crippling impacts of climate change are being felt in every part of the U.S., with staggering human and economic costs.
“The findings of this Assessment cry out for fast climate mitigation,” stated IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “Fast action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants including HFCs, methane, tropospheric ozone, and black carbon can cut the rate of global warming in half over the next several decades and is essential for reducing near-term impacts with continuing climate benefits through the end of the century.” Read more from IGSD's Press Release here.
U.S. Climate Emissions Continue Falling, Except HFCs, Up 41% Since 2005
On April 15th the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012 showing that total U.S. emissions fell by 10% between 2005 and 2012, and by 3% between 2011 and 2012. However, while emissions of all other greenhouse gases have gone down, hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs used to replace ozone depleting substances in refrigeration and air conditioning and other uses, increased by 41% over the same period. This growth is driven by their use as replacements for substances being phased out under the Montreal Protocol, which has caused U.S. HFCs emissions to grow from almost nothing in 1990 to the equivalent of over 146 million metric tons of CO2 in 2012. While HFCs have causes less than 1% of total global warming to date, by 2050, annual HFC emissions could be equivalent to 20% of annual CO2 emissions under business as usual scenarios, and a much higher percent under mitigation scenarios.
“The U.S. emissions numbers stand in stark contrast to the new European F-gas regulation, which will cut HFCs by 80% over the next 20 years,” stated IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “The U.S. must take more decisive action at home to cut these super greenhouse gases, or their growth will cancel out much of the other reductions of greenhouse gases.”
See Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2012 here.
Council of Europe Finalizes F-Gas Regulations, Cutting HFC Emissions 80%
On April 14th, the Council the European Union gave final approval for Europe’s fluorinated gas regulation, which will cut emissions of HFCs by 80% by 2030. The F-gas regulations were approved by the European Parliament earlier this year by a vote of 644 to 19. The regulations start with a freeze in 2015, followed by a first reduction in 2016-2017, dropping to 21% of 2009-12 levels by 2030. In addition to a series of bans on the sale of products using high-GWP HFCs, the regulations establish new rules regarding containment, use, recovery, and destruction of F-gases.
“Europe’s strong F-gas regulations send a powerful signal to the market to accelerate the development of climate friendly alternatives to HFCs,” stated IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “The European F-gas regulations are a model for other nations to reduce HFCs, and provide a powerful boost to the effort for a global phasedown of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.”
Read the European Council’s press release: Council adopts regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases.
World On Pace to Hit 4.8ºC by End of Century, Says UN Scientific Panel
Fast actions to cut short-lived climate pollutants can help, along with expanding renewable energy, other measures
Washington, DC, 14 April 2014 – Global greenhouse gas emissions increased by the equivalent of ten billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) between 2000 and 2010, according to a new report released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and half of all human CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2010 have occurred in the last forty years. Without additional efforts to significantly cut emissions, global temperatures could hit a staggering 4.8C above preindustrial temperatures by the end of the century, with potentially disastrous consequences for humanity, ecosystems, and sustainable development.
“Cutting short-lived climate pollutants could cut the current rate of climate change in half by 2050, while preventing more than 2.4 million air-pollution related deaths a year, and avoiding around 35 million tonnes of crop losses annually.” stated IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “Cutting SLCPs is one of the best ways to reduce impacts over the next 50 years and beyond.”Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
CCAC Invests to Cut Pollutants, Improve Health
On April 3, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) announced plans to invest $10 million to cut short-lived climate pollutant emissions in the transportation, agriculture, municipal waste, and fossil fuel sectors. The CCAC is also launching a campaign to improve air quality, citing concerns over the 7 million annual premature deaths from air pollutants reported by the World Health Organization last month. “We are especially excited about expanding our work at the city level, where air quality is of the essence. The new work will provide knowledge and evidence to make critical advances toward reduction of short-lived climate pollutants,” said Helena Molin Valdes, head of the CCAC secretariat at UNEP.
“The CCAC has been brilliant in developing a spirit of urgent optimism, a spirit that is critical for solving the daunting problem of climate change,” stated Durwood Zaelke, President of IGSD, one of the CCAC’s NGO members. “The challenge now is to bring its strategies to the scale needed to meet the bold challenge of cutting the rate of warming in half for the next 40 years.”
Read the CCAC's press release: CCAC Investes $10 Million to New Work to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, Focuses on Human Health.
Climate Change Will Be Overwhelming and Ubiquitous
Updates in latest IPCC report are more certain and more devastating
Washington, DC, 31 March 2014 – Widespread climate change impacts have already begun and are expected to get worse, according to the latest report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this weekend in Yokohamo, Japan.
"The IPCC report should supercharge efforts to cut HFCs and the other short-lived climate pollutants," said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. "Early success with the HFC amendment under the Montreal Protocol this year or in early 2015 will essentially eliminate one of the six main greenhouse gases, and provide powerful momentum for a successful COP 21 in Paris at the end of 2015.” Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
President Obama Continues Leader Level Climate Diplomacy, Including HFC Phasedown
On March 26, the leaders of the European Union and the United States issued a Joint Statement, noting the economic and security risk of climate change, and reaffirming the “strong determination to work towards the adoption in Paris in 2015 of a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties, to strengthen the multilateral, rules-based regime, … with the goal of limiting the global temperature increase to below 2°C.” The EU and US further reported that they “are intensifying their cooperation, including: phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, phasing down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol, in promoting sustainable energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy,fightingdeforestation, and mobilizing private and public finance. We are committed to ambitious domestic action to limit HFC use and emissions.”
“Amid an agenda crowded with other global and regional crisis, it’s heartening to see President Obama continuing his high-level climate diplomacy, including promoting the use of the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs—the single biggest, fastest, and cheapest near-term mitigation, capable of avoiding up to 0.5C of warming by the end of the century,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke.
See EU-US Summit: Joint Statement here.
World Health Organization Confirms Air Pollution is World's Single Largest Preventable Health Risk
7 million deaths annually are linked to indoor and outdoor air pollution
Addressing air pollutants could save millions of lives & cut warming in half by 2030
Washington, DC, 25 March 2014 – One in eight deaths in 2012 is attributed to exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution, according to new estimates released today by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the new WHO data, indoor particulate matter air pollution from the burning of solid fuels for heating and cooking caused 4.3 million deaths in 2012, and outdoor particulate matter air pollution caused an additional 3.7 million deaths globally. Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific saw the highest number of air pollution deaths, with a total of 3.3 and 2.6 million deaths caused by indoor and outdoor particulate matter air pollution respectively.
“Reducing air pollution, including black carbon soot pollution, can save millions of lives a year, reduce crop losses significantly, and cut the rate of global warming in half and the rate of warming in the Arctic by two-thirds over the next few decades,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “With this combination of benefits—healthier citizens, higher crop yields, and half the rate of climate change—reducing air pollutants should be a top priority for sustainable development and climate protection.” Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
Indian Experts Issue Declaration on Low GWP Alternatives for AC, Refrigeration, & Service Sector
An experts meeting with India’s business, government, air conditioning trade associations, and civil society leaders agreed on a broad set of principles and recommendations for a well-charted transition of the Indian refrigerant, air-conditioning, and service industry called “Pune Declaration on Low Global Warming Potential Alternatives to Ozone Depleting Substances in India.” Key points of the discussions included ozone-safe, low-GWP, energy-efficient room air conditioning and mobile air conditioning.
IGSD, in collaboration with TERRE Policy Centre, organized the expert roundtable titled “Selecting and Best Service Practices for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Equipment Using Next-Generation Refrigerants for Energy Efficiency and Climate Protection” in Pune, India on 5 March 2014. The event was co-hosted by Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers Pune Chapter. See the Pune Declaration here.
Climate Change a Growing “Threat Multiplier,” Says Pentagon
Washington, DC, 5 March - Climate change is a “threat multiplier” and a critical component of future defense strategy, according to the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review 2014 released March 4th. The 2014 QDR states that “Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. … These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”
The Pentagon is developing strategies to address climate threats through operational provisions, including altering the type of support the defense forces may be called upon to provide to civil authorities. “Secretary Hagel and his team are climate realists, with a sophisticated understanding of the future our defense forces will face as climate impacts continue to increase,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “This is global leadership at its finest.”
The 2014 QDR notes that “Climate change also creates both a need and an opportunity for nations to work together, whichthe Department will seize through a range of initiatives.” The Pentagon’s 2014 QDR also recognizes the need to ensure all military installations are strengthened against rising sea levels and extreme weather events. Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
Arctic Darkening Two to Three Times Higher Than Previously Calculated
The loss of Arctic sea ice is reducing the Earth’s albedo, or reflectivity, by an amount considerably larger than previously estimated, according to researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.The darkening of the Arctic from melting sea-ice is adding two to three times more climate forcing to the region than previously reported, according to a study published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The Scripps study is the first to use direct satellite measurements rather than computer models to assess the decreasing albedo from the loss of sea ice. “Based on our results, the albedo forcing from Arctic sea ice retreat is quite large,” said Scripps climate scientists Ian Eisenman, “Averaged over the entire globe, it’s one-fourth as large as the direct radiative forcing from CO2 during the same period.”
“This is a wakeup call for world leaders. The Arctic is a key regulator of global climate. Without fast action now, we risk losing all Arctic sea ice and its ability to reflect heat back to space. This will set off a feedback loop that accelerates the melting of the region’s permafrost and the release of still more climate-warming gases,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “This feedback loop is pushing us closer to one of the first tipping points that could cause irreversible climate damage.”
Obama Announces Plan to Tighten Large Truck Fuel Efficiency Standards
President Obama last week ordered the development of tough new fuel standards for the medium- and heavy-duty trucks as part of what aides say will be an increasingly muscular and unilateral campaign to tackle climate change through the use of the President’s executive power. The White House directed the EPA and Department of Transportation to develop the new rules by March 2016, with a draft due a year before that.The limits on truck tailpipe pollution would combine with previous rules requiring passenger cars and light trucks to nearly double their average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
“The US is showing the world that it is ‘walking the walk’ and not just ‘talking the talk’ and lecturing the rest of the world about what they need to do,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke.
CACC Marks Two Years of Short-Lived Climate Pollution Reduction
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CACC) — a partnership of 36countries and 44 NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, and the private sector to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) — celebrates two years of fast progress towardtheir Triple Imperative – slowing climate change, improving human health, and improving food security. Due to their short atmospheric lifespan, rapid reductions in SLCPs (black carbon, methane, HFCs, and tropospheric ozone) provide rapid benefits. Helena Molin Valdes, head of the CACC Secretariat,stated “We can have quick gains if we act now, the solutions are all available – this is what the partners in the Coalition are focusing on." She addedthat future priorities include expanding into the health sector and increasing the engagement with the agriculture sector. The CACC will be studying non-HFC refrigerant alternatives, launching an air quality awareness campaign, supporting information sharing to identify best practices, and increasing access to financial support for SLCP reduction.
“The CACC is already working on plans for taking its strategies to the scale it needs to meet the bold challenge of cutting the rate of warming in half for the next 40 years, with the World Bank pledging billions of new dollars for their efforts,” stated IGSD President Durwood Zaelke, one of CACC’s NGO members. “The Coalition is a rare climate success story.”
EU Moves Toward Final Phasedown of HFCs
On 30 January the European Parliament’s Environment Committee approved a new law to phase down a group of super greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The F-gas vote follows two years of negotiations between the Parliament and Ministers that resulted in an agreement to reduce HFCs by nearly 80% of present levels by 2030. The text includes an aggressive schedule for phasing down HFCs, bans on certain categories of new refrigeration and air conditioning equipment containing HFCs, mandatory destruction of by-product emissions from the manufacture of f-gases including production of feedstocks, and provisions on containment and recovery. The new law is set for formal approval by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in March and is expected to come into force in 2015.
“With the EU ready to aggressively control HFCs, a global HFC phasedown under the Montreal Protocol is inevitable,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “It’s also the biggest, fastest, and cheapest climate mitigation available to the world in the near term.” HFC are the fastest growing greenhouse gases in much of the world, increasing at a rate of 10-15% per year.
World Already Teetering on Tipping Points for Abrupt Climate Change
Report Calls for Early Warning Systems to Anticipate Changes
Cutting short-lived climate pollutants is most effective way to slow warming in near term
Washington, DC, 4 December – The world is already beginning to pass tipping points for abrupt, catastrophic, and irreversible changes to the global climate according to a new 200-page report released yesterday by the US National Academy of Sciences. Abrupt climate change, unlike gradual changes such as steadily increasing global temperatures, can cause rapid changes to physical, biological, and human systems in a matter of years or decades, far too fast for humans to properly adapt. The report found that some projected tipping points such as the melting of arctic permafrost, are unlikely to occur in this century, others such as the collapse of Arctic summer sea-ice are already underway and accelerating. The report concludes that while large uncertainties still remain, the world is not doing enough to prepare and anticipate for these types of threats, and calls for more research and the development of an early warning system that could give humanity a few critical years to prepare for the worst impacts of abrupt climate change.
“This should be a wakeup call for the world,” stated IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “No amount of continued warming can be considered safe when we have no idea when we’ll pass these thresholds for irreversible and abrupt climate change. The best way to slow down warming, particularly in the critically vulnerable Arctic is to cut black carbon soot and other short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, tropospheric ozone, and HFCs.” Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
Montreal Protocol Success Slowed Global Warming
Slow down in global warming linked to phase out of CFCs and methane reductions
Washington DC, 11 November, 2013 - Scientists using sophisticated statistical methods show in a paper in Nature Geoscience that the successful phase out of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, by the Montreal Protocol slowed climate change, contributing to a lower rate of global warming since the early 1990s. The paper by Francisco Estrada and others analyzed temperature data, together with trends in emissions of greenhouse gases including CFCs, methane, and carbon dioxide. They identified other human causes of the pauses in warming, including reductions in methane emissions from changes in agricultural practices, the Great Depression, and World War I and II.
“The statistical analysis confirms that the Montreal Protocol is not only the world’s most successful environmental treaty, but also the most successful climate treaty,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “The treaty not only solved the world’s first great threat to the global atmosphere—the destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer—it also has solved a significant part of climate change, as the same chemicals that destroy the ozone layer are also powerful greenhouse gases.”The Estrada paper concludes that “reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are effective in slowing the rate of warming in the short term.” Read more from IGSD Press Release here.
Cutting Short-Lived Climate Pollutants Critical for Protecting Earth’s Snow and Ice-Covered Regions
Washington DC, 3 November 2013 – Cutting short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) can significantly reduce warming in vulnerable ice and snow covered areas of the world such as the Arctic and Himalayas, known as the cryosphere, while saving millions of lives and protecting ecosystems, according to a new scientific study released today.
The report by the World Bank and the International Climate Cryosphere Initiative calculates the impacts of climate change in cryosphere regions around the globe including the Arctic, Himalayas, Andes and East Africa, and describes which actions – in addition to cuts in carbon dioxide emissions – can slow these changes. The cryosphere regions are warming at more than twice the global average rate, which increases melting and sea-level rise, and increases the risk of self-amplifying feedbacks that could trigger abrupt and catastrophic climate change.
“Fast cuts in CO2 emissions are necessary to stabilize long-term temperatures, but in the near term, we can cut the rate of climate change in half by cutting black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and HFC refrigerants. Reducing these climate pollutants is the only way to protect the world’s vulnerable people and places in the near term,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke.
By protecting glaciers and snow pack, SLCP reductions could cut the near-term projected decrease in the Amazon River flow by as much as half. Cutting SLCPs could also prevent up to half a meter or more of sea-level rise by 2050, according to earlier research. Read more from IGSD Press Release here.
Nature Editorial says Cutting HFCs Under Montreal Protocol is Acid Test for Multilateralism
“Two years ago, Nature chided a handful of countries for blocking the path forwards [to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol], chiefly China, India and Brazil. Today, we are left with one major holdout: India. As the latest negotiations over the future of the Montreal Protocol wrapped up in Bangkok on 25 October, India found itself increasingly isolated, and rightly so..”
“The fact that India is on the losing side of this debate makes its renewed intransigence all the more galling. But there is hope: after the September G20 meeting, Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to launch negotiations over the issue.”
“At stake in the Montreal Protocol talks is not just the future of one treaty, but also our legitimately shaken confidence in multilateralism. If the world cannot agree on something as simple as this, what hope is there of meaningful cooperation on the difficult issues that lie ahead?” Read the Nature Editorial here.
Steady March Towards Action on Reducing HFCs Under Montreal Protocol
Led by African and small island states, nations near consensus on bringing HFCs into Ozone Treaty
Bangkok, 25 October 2013—The Parties to the Montreal Protocol continued their steady march towards phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under that treaty this week in Bangkok by reconvening the Discussion Group on HFC Management and broadening its mandate to consider the recent international agreements calling for the treaty to phase down HFCs, including the agreement by the G-20 nations and six observer states last month in St. Petersburg, Russia. Although India and Saudi Arabia blocked attempts to open formal discussions on two proposals to address HFCs—one by Micronesia, Morocco and the Maldives, the other by Canada, Mexico and the United States—the groundswell of support for using the Montreal Protocol to undertake the global phase down of HFCs called for in the Rio + 20 outcome last year and reiterated in recent high-level agreements continues to build.
“The writing is clearly on the wall,” said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. “A few countries are still trying to delay the final agreement, but it’s now clear this is a losing strategy and that the Montreal Protocol will be used to phase down HFCs.”
The 25th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol that took place in Bangkok this week comes one month after G-20 leaders announced support for initiatives that are complementary to efforts under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, while retaining HFCs within the scope of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol for controlling emissions. Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here, and from Editorial in Nature here.
India Moves a Step Closer to Cutting HFCs Under Montreal Protocol
Agrees at White House Today to Immediately Convene Discussion
Accounting and Reporting Would Remain Under UNFCCC
Washington DC, 27 September 2013 - Today Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India took another step forward in climate protection by agreeing with President Obama that India would immediately convene discussions of phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.
"It's increasingly obvious that we need to cut HFCs under the Montreal Protocol," said IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. "It's the biggest, fastest, and cheapest piece of climate mitigation available to the world today. Cutting HFCs can avoid up to 0.5°C in global warming by the end of the century."
The relevant paragraph from the joint statement from President Obama and Prime Minister Singh follows:
"The two leaders agreed to immediately convene the India-U.S. Task Force on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to discuss, inter alia, multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and the institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs, based on economically-viable and technically feasible alternatives, and include HFCs within the scope of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol for accounting and reporting of emissions...." Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.
G-20 Countries Join US and China to Support Phasing Down HFCs Under Montreal Protocol
US and China agree to launch formal negotiations on HFC phase-down under Montreal Protocol
Climate optimism resurrected by Obama, Xi, other G20 Leaders
St. Petersburg, 6 September 2013 - Today President Obama negotiated two separate agreements, one with the G-20 and one with China, to phase down the super greenhouse gasses called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The G-20 Leaders Declaration announced support for initiatives that are complementary to efforts under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs.
“The G-20 agreement leaves little if any opposition to the HFC amendment,” stated IGSD President Durwood Zaelke. "This is the biggest climate prize available to the world in the next few years, providing mitigation equivalent to 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 and avoiding up to nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.5 Celsius) in warming by 2100. It also will help build the momentum we need to negotiate a strong climate treaty in 2015 to go into effect in 2020,” added Zaelke. “Climate optimism was resurrected today by President Obama, President Xi, and the other G-20 leaders.”
The announcement comes on the heels of an agreement reached earlier in the day between the U.S. and China to open formal negotiations on the details of the amendment to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. The agreement took place on the margins of the G-20 Summit and builds on an earlier agreement between President Xi Jinping and President Obama. Read more from IGSD’s Press Release here.