7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Quick wins for climate change and development

Quick wins for climate change and development

Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals by reducing short-lived climate pollutants

debate
D2
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - 14:15 to 15:30

Key points

•    The reduction of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) is key to mitigating climate change and advancing central development goals. 

•    Better air quality directly contributes to at least three Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It improves the ecosystem as a whole, fosters higher crops yields and reduced hunger, and improves human health.

•    Millions of premature deaths from air pollution could be avoided by reducing SLCPs. Other benefits are increased energy efficiency and enhanced sustainable production and consumption. 

•    Africa is energy-rich, but suffers from energy poverty and pollution.

Synopsis

The momentum of the Paris climate change agreement at the end of 2015 must be maintained. Climate and development challenges can be met by reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), a group of air pollutants comprising black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluorocarbons. Apart from damaging human health, SLCPs lead to near-term climate change and slower economic growth. Reducing them would improve the quality of life in developing countries, and help governments meet the climate goals. However, any action toward this must be rooted in domestic policies. 

Tackling SLCPs now could reduce the rise in temperature by 0.6°C globally by 2050, which would be a significant contribution to slowing climate change. As the concentration of SLCPs in the atmosphere also leads to crop losses and changed weather patterns, lower SLCPs by upgrading cooking stoves in developing countries, improving the energy efficiency of heating systems and reducing slash-an-burn farming. But methane and black carbon emissions cannot be reduced without new technology.

Lower indoor and outdoor air pollution would improve populations’ health, avoid an estimated 2,4 million deaths annually, reduce poverty levels and increase energy efficiency. This would go some way towards achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Most important is to reduce black carbon emissions from cooking stoves and kerosene lamps. The replacement of old equipment by durable solar lamps and efficient stoves is a key factor in improving women's health, since indoor pollution is a major cause of premature deaths in Africa. 

The Dutch government will focus its global climate change mitigation efforts on providing clean energy sources and improving environmental standards in partner countries.

Insight

Black carbon kills. Soot, resulting from incomplete wood combustion, and smog levels in developing countries must be reduced. It is crucial to act now on reducing air pollution, although the Paris climate change agreement did not call for action specifically on SLCPs. Targets on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as SLCPs should be addressed in a two-target approach. That requires the introduction of monitoring systems for particulate matter in developing countries.

Organised by

    Jacob Werksman
    Principal Advisor
    European Commission - DG for Climate Action
    Pacifica Achieng
    Director of Climate Change
    Government of Kenya
    Michel Rentenaar
    Climate Envoy, Netherlands
    Sunday Leonard
    Science Officer
    UNEP-CCAC Secretariat, Nigeria
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