Countries Join Forces To Reduce Short-Lived Climate Change Pollutants
February 18, 2012

Countries Join Forces To Reduce Short-Lived Climate Change Pollutants

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and representatives from several other nations joined forces on Thursday to announce the formation of a new international coalition focused on reducing "short-lived" climate pollutant levels.

According to John M. Broder of the New York Times, the nations are looking to curb emissions of soot (also known as black carbon), methane, and hydrofluorocarbons (which are used as refrigerants).

Broder reports that these substances "contribute to rapid climate change and widespread health problems" and account for "30 to 40 percent of global warming."

"Soot from diesel exhausts and the burning of wood, agricultural waste and dung for heating and cooking causes an estimated two million premature deaths a year, particularly in the poorest countries," he added. "Scientists say that concerted action on these substances can reduce global temperatures by 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and prevent millions of cases of lung and heart disease by 2030."

"By focusing on these pollutants -- how to reduce them and, where possible, use them for energy -- we can have local and regional effects that people can see and feel," Clinton said during the State Department announcement. "They can see those effects and become convinced that this commitment is one we all must all undertake. There will be better health, cleaner air, more productive crops, more energy -- in addition to less warming."

Joining the U.S. in the international coalition, which is being overseen by the United Nations (UN) Environment Program, are Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico and Sweden, Bloomberg's Kim Chipman reported on Friday. The members have pledged a combined $15 million to start, with $12 committed by the U.S. and an additional $3 million by Canada over the next two years, though no specific emissions reductions goals were established.

"This project holds a lot of promise, especially in the context of our larger battle against climate change," Clinton said. "Now we know, of course, that this effort is not the answer to the climate crisis. There is no way to effectively address climate change without reducing carbon dioxide, the most dangerous, prevalent, and persistent greenhouse gas. It stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. So this coalition is intended to complement -- not supplant -- the other actions we are, and must be, taking."

A recent study, conducted by two dozen scientists and published in the journal Science, identified 14 different methane and black carbon control measures that could be used to curb those pollutants, USA Today's Wendy Koch wrote on Friday. Among their suggestions, she added, were installing filters on diesel engines and capturing methane released from gas and oil wells.

Drew Shindell, a senior climate scientist at NASA´s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and lead author of the Science study, told Broder, "From a political point of view, what´s really appealing about these measures is that a lot of the benefits are realized by those that take the action. If you reduce these emissions in the developing world, it´s the developing world that gets most of the benefits, by stabilizing rainfall and improving public health.”


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