IGSD

Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Making Our Planet Great Again Requires Fast Action

President Macron is uniquely suited to be the world’s leading climate protector and at this week’s One Planet Summit, he must issue an urgent call for fast action and a message of urgent optimism: if we act quickly there is still, barely, enough time to address the climate crisis.

To bend the emissions curves fast and successfully limit global temperature to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, requires rapid decarbonizing the global energy system by 2050, quick cuts to super pollutants like HFCs, methane, and black carbon by 2020 and CO2 management post emission, including atmospheric carbon extraction.

Read full Op-Ed on Huffington Post, “Making Our Planet Great, Again, Requires Fast Action”, by Paul Bledsoe, Maxime Beaugrand, & Durwood Zaelke.

December 12, 2017 at 5:03 pm | News | No comment


World Environment Minsters Pursue ‘Pollution Free Planet’, Tackle Super Climate Pollutants

Nairobi, Kenya, 6 December 2017 — Environment ministers at the United Nations Environment Assembly agreed today to a resolution to reduce all forms of air pollution to improve health, climate, and agricultural co-benefits, and to reduce 6.5 million deaths air pollution now causes every year, an estimated expected to increase by more than 50% by 2050.

The resolution notes the importance of black carbon, methane, and ground-level ozone air pollution—the short-lived climate pollutants—for climate change mitigation. In addition, the ministers at UNEA recognized the leading role of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition in the battle to reduce air pollution and slow climate change and made a recommendation to all countries to consider joining or cooperating with the Coalition.

The UNEA resolution, Preventing and Reducing Air Pollution to Improve Air Quality Globally, states:

The United Nations Environment Assembly

Recognizing that some air pollutants, such as black carbon, methane and ground-level ozone, are also short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) and are responsible for a significant portion of air pollution-related deaths, as well as impacts on crops and hence food security, and their reduction has co-benefits for the climate. ***

1) Reaffirms the call in United Nations Environment Assembly resolution 1/7 for Member States to take action across sectors to reduce all forms of air pollution and urges member states to:

c. Include, as appropriate, air pollutants that are also short-lived climate pollutants in national action programmes to prevent and reduce air pollution ***

2) Encourages Member States when undertaking activities in paragraph 1 above to:

b. Consider joining or cooperating with, as appropriate, relevant global initiatives such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the Global Methane Initiative;

The resolution was adopted by the environment ministers at the 3rd United Nations Environment Assembly, which convened at United Nations Environment headquarters in Nairobi 4-6 December.

The other short-lived climate pollutant, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), were also mentioned in the final outcome document, The Ministerial Declaration of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly “Towards a Pollution-Free Planet”, where ministers recognized the Kigali Amendment to phasedown HFCs. Last month the Kigali Amendment crossed the ratification threshold in the run up to the 30th Anniversary celebratory meeting of the parties of the Montreal Protocol and will now enter into force 1 January 2019. The UNEA Ministerial Declaration states:

3. We also believe that the knowledge and technological solutions to reduce pollution already exist, though many stakeholders have yet to explore and implement the many opportunities available. We are encouraged by the numerous success stories of countries, cities and businesses addressing air, soil, freshwater and marine pollution issues. Recent examples include the adoption of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and the entry into force of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

The CCAC hosted a high level panel discussion at UNEA on “Fast action on air pollution provides quick results and multiple benefits, focusing on the latest science behind air pollution and the opportunities and benefits that fast action on reducing short-lived climate pollutants has for health, the climate, development, and economic growth.

The CCAC event included new research by several members of its Science Advisory Panel published last month in Nature Climate Change, highlighting how measures to reduce these dangerous air pollutants and short-lived climate pollutants could help meet all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the ambitious goal of slowing warming by 0.5°C over the next quarter of a century.

“To capitalize on the inherent synergies and co-benefits between air pollution reduction, climate change mitigation, the Paris Agreement goals, and the SDGs, it is important to quantify the multiple benefits of air pollutant mitigation policies, while addressing potential trade-offs”, said Romina Picolotti, IGSD Senior Counsel. “The decision taken today by ministers at UNEA have set us on a path to reduce air pollution and much more. The CCAC, through its seven sectoral and four cross-cutting initiatives, is working to provide guidance and institutional support to develop and implement strategies to quickly reduce black carbon, methane and HFC emissions”, she added.

___

For further information, see the Well Under 2°C report and accompanying paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, here.

December 6, 2017 at 11:43 am | Press Releases | No comment


Montreal Protocol Concludes 30th Anniversary with Robust Financial Replenishment, Progress on Energy Efficiency

Montreal, Canada, 25 November 2017 — Early this morning at the conclusion of the 30th anniversary Meeting of the Parties (MOP) of the Montreal Protocol the Parties agreed to a robust three-year replenishment of $540 million to fund the continuing phase out of HCFCs, and to a separate decision to have the Technology & Economic Assessment Panel study how best to integrate energy efficiency with the HFC phasedown under the Kigali Amendment.

The energy efficiency decision was submitted by India, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the African Group. It recognizes the importance of maintaining and enhancing energy efficiency during the switch from high-global warming potential HFCs to low-GWP alternatives in the refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump sectors. This has the potential to avoid significant CO2 emissions from the power plants that provide the electricity to run these products and equipment, estimated by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory to equal the production from of up to nearly 1,600 medium-sized (500 MW) peak-load power plants by 2030, and up to 2,500 power plants by 2050.

In addition, UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim launched a Global Clean Cooling Campaign to support Montreal Protocol Parties to include energy efficiency while phasing down HFCs. This important effort is funded by the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program (K-CEP), a philanthropic fund of $52 million dedicated to catalyze energy efficiency in the cooling sector. K-CEP announced the Campaign via twitter: “Erik Solheim launches package in support of Montreal Protocol work on #Cooling #efficiency to avoid up to 1°C. http://bit.ly/2hV4Xxa  @UNEP #MOP29 #KigaliAmendment”.

“That 1°C of avoided warming may be the most significant contribution the world could make to the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement, to keep the increase in average world temperatures to well below 2°C, aiming for 1.5°C above their pre-industrial level,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.

The U.S. continued its support of the Montreal Protocol, a treaty that started under President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  U.S. head of delegation Judith G. Garber, U.S Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, stated:

“The United States views the Montreal Protocol as of one of the world’s most successful multilateral environmental agreements. When he signed the Montreal Protocol, President Reagan said, and I quote: “The Montreal Protocol is a model of cooperation. It is a product of the recognition and international consensus that ozone depletion is a global problem, both in terms of its causes and its effects. The Protocol is the result of an extraordinary process of scientific study, negotiations among representatives of the business and environmental communities, and international diplomacy. It is a monumental achievement.” It is to the credit of everyone in this room that this statement is as true today as it was 30 years ago…

The United States believes the Kigali Amendment represents a pragmatic and balanced approach to phasing down the production and consumption of HFCs, and therefore we support the goals and approach of the Amendment.

There are a number of steps in our domestic process that we would need to complete before reaching a final decision on transmittal of the Kigali Amendment to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent.

There is no timeline currently determined for these steps, but we have initiated the process to consider U.S. ratification of the Amendment.

We have enjoyed working with all of you for the past 30 years and look forward to continuing our cooperation. We have much work ahead of us, but we can rely on a strong foundation built by decades of Ozone Heroes. We can, and will, continue that incredible legacy.”

In the run up to this year’s meeting on 17th November 2017, Sweden became the 20th Party to deposit its instrument of ratification to the Kigali Amendment, which ensures that the amendment will enter into force 1 January 2019. The amendment will eliminate warming from HFCs —one of the six main greenhouse gases. Many other Parties are poised to complete their own ratification shortly.

While exhausted after a long week and a longer night, Parties were proud to conclude the 30th Anniversary of what is widely considered the world’s most successful treaty, which is continuing to deliver for the Earth. This time, agreements on financing, energy efficiency, and having 20 Parties announce ratification of the Kigali Amendment, send the strongest signals possible to the markets, and the best climate news for the world.

An Op-Ed by Nobel Laureate Mario Molina & Durwood Zaelke, The Montreal Protocol: Triumph by Treaty, is here.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s opening speech is here.

IGSD’s HFC Primer is here.

For further information, contact Durwood Zaelke at zaelke@igsd.org; cell: 1.202.498.2457

November 25, 2017 at 1:41 am | Feature homepage, Press Releases | No comment


UN Environment Honors IGSD and Collaborators for Climate Work

Ceremony at 30th Anniversary of Montreal Protocol

IGSD and its collaborators were among those honored at this year’s 30th anniversary Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, where UN Environment recognized individuals, Parties, and organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to the progress and achievements of the Montreal Protocol, widely regarded as the world’s most effective environmental treaty.

IGSD President Durwood Zaelke and IGSD Director of Researcher Dr. Stephen O. Andersen each received the Montreal Protocol Policy and Implementation Leadership Award for their respective contributions towards gathering consensus and rallying political momentum behind the Kigali Amendment.

The Kigali Amendment, agreed at last year’s Meeting of the Parties in Kigali, Rwanda, will avoid the equivalent of 80 to 105 billion tons of CO2 by 2050, and up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100, making it the single most significant contribution to keeping warming within the Paris Agreement goals of staying well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, aiming for the still safer 1.5°C.

 

Left to right: Nathan Borgford-Parnell, CCAC Science Advisor and former IGSD Staff Attorney; Dr. Gabrielle Dreyfus, IGSD Senior Scientist; Richard Ferris, IGSD Senior Counsel; Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, IGSD Director of Research; Romina Picolotti, IGSD Senior Counsel; Tony Oposa, IGSD Senior Advisor; and Dr. Nancy Sherman, IGSD Director of Technical Assessment. Borgford-Parnell accepted the Political Leadership Award on behalf of the CCAC, and Picolotti accepted the Policy and Implementation Leadership Award on behalf of IGSD President Durwood Zaelke.

IGSD also shared a Scientific Leadership Award as part of the “Velders Team” led by Dutch scientist Dr. Guus J.M. Velders for their pioneering research on the climate benefits of the Montreal Protocol and their efforts to build the scientific foundation for the 2007 Adjustment to the Protocol accelerating the HCFC phaseout and the 2016 Kigali Amendment to phasedown HFCs.

The scientists earning the award include Dr. Guus J.M. Velders, Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, Dr. John S. Daniel, Dr. David Fahey, and Dr. Mack McFarland. Zaelke and Marco Gonzalez, former Executive Secretary of the Montreal Protocol Secretariat, were included in the Scientific Leadership Award with the Velders Team for their work communicating and promoting the team’s scientific findings to the public and policymakers. The Velders Team inspired other scientific papers leading to an improved understanding and appreciation of the climate impacts of CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs.  Earlier this year, Guus Velders also was selected by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of 2017.

“IGSD is proud to have played a role in the acceleration of the HCFC phaseout and adoption and ratification of the Kigali Amendment and we continue to encourage all countries to ratify as soon as possible,” Dr. Andersen said. “To receive this award during the 30th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, the most successful environmental treaty ever, is a high honor. We are confident that through the Kigali Amendment, the Montreal Protocol will do for HFCs what it has successfully done to reduce nearly 100 ozone depleting greenhouse gases.”

“The Kigali Amendment is the single largest contribution to date to keep warming from breaching the 1.5° C barrier”, said Zaelke. “It’s safe to say that the world could not have achieved this without the Velders Team.”

Others honored at the 30th Anniversary award ceremony include Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the International Expert Panel for their study on Alternative Refrigerant Evaluation for High-Ambient-Temperature Environments. Dr. Suely Machado Carvalho, a frequent IGSD collaborator, co-chaired the International Expert Panel with Dr. Patrick Phelan, and Dr. Omar Abdelaziz led the study.

Awards also were presented to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, the Environmental Investigation Agency, and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy. Awards for Best Media Coverage went to Jianming Chen, Down To Earth, and Windfall Films and BBC. The Windfall Films’ series on the success of the Montreal Protocol includes The Ozone Hole, a film featuring interviews with Zaelke and Andersen, among others. The Ozone Hole had its opening in Montreal the night before the Awards and will air next year on BBC.

The Policy Leadership award depicts the Chinese Goddess Nüwa who smelted a seven color stone to block a hole in the sky to repair the wall of heaven. A 3.9 metre high sculpture of Nüwa was produced by celebrated artist Yuan Xikun for the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, who chose the figure to draw parallels with modern-day challenges of ozone depletion and climate change. The statute was unveiled at the UN offices in Vienna.

 

The statue of Nüwa being unveiled at the Vienna International Centre,Vienna, Austria. Photo by M. Evstafyev/UNIDO

The Ozone Secretariat’s Ozone Awards 2017 homepage is here.

Biographies of recipients of the Ozone Awards 2017 are here.

November 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Feature homepage, News | No comment


Watch: #RatifyKigali

In the run up to the Montreal Protocol’s 30th anniversary Meeting of the Parties in Montreal next week, Sweden became the 20th Party to deposit its instrument of ratification to the Kigali Amendment, which ensures that the amendment will enter into force 1 January 2019. The amendment will eliminate warming from HFCs —one of the six main greenhouse gases. Many other Parties are poised to complete their own ratification shortly.

The Kigali Amendment was agreed at last year’s Meeting of Parties in Kigali, Rwanda, and will avoid the equivalent of up to 90 billion tons of CO2 by 2050, and up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100, making it perhaps the single most significant contribution to keeping warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, aiming for the still safer 1.5°C.

The HFC phasedown will also catalyze improvement of the energy efficiency of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products and equipment that use HFCs as refrigerants.  This will avoid significant CO2 emissions from the power plants that provide the electricity to run these products and equipment, equal to the production from nearly 1,600 medium-sized (500 MW) peak-load power plants by 2030, and up to 2,500 power plants by 2050.

“With the wolf of climate impacts at our door, time for our counter-offensive is short. Despite important actions at local, state and national levels, ultimately the battle for climate protection will be won or lost at the international level. The 30 years of success of the Montreal Protocol should inspire us to take still stronger actions, and  learn from the brilliant treaty that has saved our bacon for the past 30 years….” 

– Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.

PS: Trinidad & Tobago just became the 21st Party, with more on the way.

November 17, 2017 at 5:58 pm | News | No comment


Kigali Amendment Reaches Needed Ratifications in Run Up to Montreal Protocol’s 30th Anniversary Meeting Next Week

Eliminating warming from HFCs will be single biggest climate mitigation success to date, avoiding up to 0.5°C of warming by end of century, and more from energy efficiency gains

17 November 2017, Washington, DC – In the run up to the Montreal Protocol’s 30th anniversary Meeting of the Parties in Montreal next week, this afternoon Sweden became the 20th Party to deposit its instrument of ratification to the Kigali Amendment, which ensures that the amendment will enter into force 1 January 2019. The amendment will eliminate warming from HFCs —one of the six main greenhouse gases. Many other Parties are poised to complete their own ratification shortly.

The Kigali Amendment was agreed at last year’s Meeting of Parties in Kigali, Rwanda, and will avoid the equivalent of up to 90 billion tons of CO2 by 2050, and up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100, making it perhaps the single most significant contribution to keeping warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, aiming for the still safer 1.5°C.

The HFC phasedown will also catalyze improvement of the energy efficiency of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products and equipment that use HFCs as refrigerants.  This will avoid significant CO2 emissions from the power plants that provide the electricity to run these products and equipment, equal to the production from nearly 1,600 medium-sized (500 MW) peak-load power plants by 2030, and up to 2,500 power plants by 2050.

Like all control measures under the Montreal Protocol, the Kigali Amendment imposes mandatory obligations on all Parties, backed up with a comprehensive compliance regime, including trade measures. This, together with a dedicated funding mechanism to provide agreed incremental costs for the least developed Parties, has helped the Montreal Protocol achieve near perfect compliance in its past phaseouts of nearly 100 chemicals and ozone-depleting substances.

At next week’s meeting the Parties are also expected to agree on the three-year replenishment for the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund to ensure the continuing compliance. During this week’s Executive Committee Meeting of the Multilateral Fund, the Parties, including the US, announced their contributions to the “fast start” fund, set up just before the Kigali Amendment to ensure its fast implementation. Private donors also set up a separate $50 million fund to focus on energy efficiency.

With the world already at 1°C above pre-industrial levels, and with current emissions almost certainly committed to 1.5°C, it is essential for climate safety to reduce not only HFC’s but also the other short-lived climate pollutants- black carbon, methane, and tropospheric ozone. Fast mitigation of all SLCPs can avoid up to 0.6°C of warming by 2050, avoiding two to six times more warming than an aggressive CO2 mitigation strategy.

As analyzed by the Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius: Fast Action Policies to Protect People and the Planet from Extreme Climate Change report, authored by a team of 33 prominent scientists and policy experts, and the peer-reviewed companion paper,  Well Below 2°C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes, authored by Xu & Ramanathan in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), fast mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants, including the Kigali Amendment, is one of the three indispensable policy levers available to limit global temperature rise to well under 2°C.

The other two levers are first, reducing CO2 emissions through clean energy and efficiency, and second, developing technologies at scale to control CO2 after it has been emitted, including capture at the smokestack, utilization, and storage, as well as removal of CO2 from the ambient atmosphere.

“With the wolf of climate impacts at our door, time for our counter-offensive is short,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Despite important actions at local, state and national levels, ultimately the battle for climate protection will be won or lost at the international level. The 30 years of success of the Montreal Protocol should inspire us to take still stronger actions, and to use additional tailor-made agreements to address specific business sector emissions, with the full engagement of industry,” he added.

The Montreal Protocol was successfully concluded in 1987 with leadership from the United States, under President Ronald Reagan, and the United Kingdom, under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The joint 11th Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention and 29th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol will be hosted at the ICAO Headquarters, Montreal, Canada from 20 to 24th November.

For further information, see IGSD’s HFC Primer & Energy Efficiency Primer**

Press inquiries please contact: Durwood Zaelke, zaelke@igsd.org (+1 (202) 498 2457) or Giselle Gonzalez, ggonzalez@igsd.org (+1 (202) 957 2034)

** Working draft paper, open for comments

November 17, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Feature homepage, Press Releases | No comment


CCAC Urges Ratification of Kigali Amendment, Welcomes Complementary Efforts to Increase Energy Efficiency

Bonn, Germany, 14 November 2017– Continuing their leadership on short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), the Bonn Communique of the Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) released today stated:

“We commend the countries that included short-lived climate pollutants in their national climate action plans, and the twelve countries that have ratified the Kigali Amendment to phase-down HFCs, and we encourage all countries and partners to continue efforts to reduce these pollutants and welcome complementary efforts to support increased energy efficiency in cooling appliances”

The Bonn Communique was adopted  by the ministers at a meeting of CCAC’s High Level Assembly (HLA) hosted at the 23rd annual Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP23.

“The Ministers of the Coalition were at the forefront to encourage the world to ratify the Kigali Amendment, which is the most important mitigation treaty with universal membership we have today. Its implementation will avoid 0.5°C of global warming,” said Romina Picolotti, Senior Counsel of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, who was at the meeting. “Now we are working hard with these courageous Ministers to double the development and climate benefits by ensuring that energy efficiency is increased while phasing down this super greenhouse gas. Climate change is an existential threat and it is our responsibility to focus our efforts to deliver fast mitigation at scale now. This is exactly what the Kigali Amendment will do,” she added.

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was adopted on the 15th of October 2016 to phase down HFCs, one of the super greenhouse gases. The amendment will enter into force on 1 January 2019, provided at least 20 instruments of ratification, acceptance, or approval have been deposited by Parties to the Montreal Protocol.

The first 14 countries have already ratified*, and it is still possible for six more parties to announced their ratification during this year’s 30th anniversary Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol November 20-24th.

“During its 30-year history, the Montreal Protocol has solved the first great threat to the global atmosphere by putting the stratospheric ozone layer back on the path to recovery, while also avoiding an amount of warming that otherwise could have equaled that from carbon dioxide, which is responsible for more than half of all warming,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.  “The Kigali Amendment will avoid another significant amount of warming.”

The Kigali Amendment provides the largest, fastest, and most secure climate mitigation available in the near-term, avoiding up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century. The HFC phasedown also will catalyze improvement of the energy efficiency of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products and equipment that use HFCs as refrigerants.  This will avoid significant amounts of CO2 emissions from the power plants that provide the electricity to run these products and equipment, equal to the production from between nearly 1,600 medium-sized (500 MW) peak-load power plants by 2030, and up to 2,500 power plants by 2050.

Improving energy efficiency in air conditioners and other appliances during the phasedown of HFCs, can nearly double the climate benefits of the HFC phasedown.

[*As of November 17th, there are now 19 ratifications officially on file with the UN depository.]

IGSD’s HFC Primer is here.

November 14, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Press Releases | No comment


California Wins 2017 Outstanding Policy Climate and Clean Air Award

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Bonn, November 12, 2017— The State of California won the inaugural Climate and Clean Air Award for Outstanding Policy for its leadership, bold policies and legislation to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including black carbon, methane, and HFCs.

Over the last three years, California has set the most comprehensive and strongest set of targets for reducing these super climate pollutants into state law, and is pursuing a detailed plan to meet those targets.

This strategy, developed in-line with targets identified in the CCAC’s “Time to Act” report, was formally adopted by the California Air Resources Board in March 2017, and was initially developed pursuant to Senate Bill 605 by Senator Ricardo Lara. The ambitious SLCP Reduction Strategy includes goals to reduce methane and HFC emissions by 40% below 2013 levels by 2030, and to cut non-forest black carbon emissions by 50% below 2013 levels by 2030.

Altogether, California’s SLCP Reduction Strategy is expected to reduce GHG emissions more than any other climate program through 2030, including Cap-and-Trade, on the way to reducing statewide GHG emissions by 40% below 1990 levels.

The award recognized the work of the California Air Resources Board, Senator Ricardo Lara and Governor Edmund Gerald Brown Jr for these efforts.

The first ever Climate and Clean Air Awards were presented to California and six other winners on Sunday at a ceremony at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany (COP23).

 More information on all the 2017 Climate and Clean Air Award Winners here.

 

November 12, 2017 at 2:20 pm | News | No comment


Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences Proposes Practical Solutions to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change

New Declaration from Vatican’s Scientific Body Finds Climate Change Is Existential Threat to Humans and the Earth Unless We Act Fast

Vatican City, Vatican, 9 November 2017 – Scalable and practical solutions exist to help preserve the quality of life of future generations in the face of accelerating climate impacts, and with perhaps a decade left to put these into place, the time for climate change action is now. These are the conclusions of the Declaration issued last week by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, entitled “Our Planet, Our Health, Our Responsibility”.

Noting with concern that “climate change caused by fossil fuels and other human activities poses an existential threat to Homo sapiens and contributes to mass extinction of species,” the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the seven climate change experts leading a key workshop that produced the Declaration called on governments, faith leaders, civic society and other stakeholders to urgently undertake the scalable and practical solutions available to mitigate climate change.

The twelve solutions – which include rapid reductions of short-lived climate pollutants and the development of carbon dioxide removal technologies – are based on a three-lever cooling strategy outlined in the recently published matched pair of reports the Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius: Fast Action Policies to Protect People and the Planet from Extreme Climate Change, authored by a team of 33 prominent scientists and policy experts co-chaired by Professor V. Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution, Nobel Laureate Mario Molina, and IGSD President Durwood Zaelke, and the peer-reviewed companion paper by Xu & Ramanathan, Well Below 2°C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The strategy elaborated in the two Under 2°C reports and echoed in the Declaration demonstrate how the bending the emissions curves of climate pollutants and successfully limiting global temperature to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels – as global leaders have pledged through the Paris Agreement – can be achieved by pulling three levers:

  • Decarbonizing the global energy system by mid-century;
  • Drastically reducing emissions of short-lived super climate pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons, methane, and black carbon by 2020;
  • Undertaking atmospheric carbon extraction, which will be needed if CO2emissions do not peak by 2020.

“The world has cumulatively emitted about 2.2 trillion tons of CO2 to date, and there is a 1 in 20 chance that emission beyond this rate presents catastrophic and perhaps even an existential risk” said Professor Ramanathan, lead co-author of the Declaration and both Under 2°C reports. “To put in perspective, how many of us would choose to buckle our grandchildren to an airplane seat if we knew there was as much as a 1 in 20 chance of the plane crashing? With climate change that can pose existential threats, we have already put them in that plane. The good news from our findings is that there is still time to avoid these catastrophic changes.”

“The feasibility of achieving this aggressive three-lever mitigation strategy implemented through the twelve solutions is backed up by numerous living laboratories ranging from cities such as Stockholm to large states like California, the sixth largest economy in the world, that have already embarked on mitigation actions such as 40% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2030 and 50% to 80% reductions in short-lived climate pollutants” said Zaelke. “The multitude of examples from our recent past—further expanded in the reports — provide hopeful cases of humanity’s ability to mobilize to achieve our collective environmental objectives,” he added.

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Information on the Vatican workshop held November 2-4, Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility: Climate Change, Air Pollution and Health, is here.

Ramanathan, Molina, & Zaelke, co-chairs, Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius: Fast Action Policies to Protect People and the Planet from Extreme Climate Change, is here.

Xu & Ramanathan, Well Below 2°C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes, is here.

November 9, 2017 at 10:56 am | Feature homepage, Press Releases | No comment


UNGA High-Level Event: On Montreal Protocol’s 30th Anniversary Canada & Rwanda Urge Rapid Ratification of Kigali Amendment

18 September 2017, New York- Ministers and top UN leaders yesterday urged the world’s nations to quickly ratify an international agreement that could prevent up to half a degree of global warming this century.

Dr. Vincent Biruta, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Rwanda, and Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada, hosted a high-level event at the United Nations General Assembly to press for ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

So far six countries – Mali, the Federate States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Rwanda, Palau, and Norway – have ratified the amendment, which was adopted on the 14th of October 2016, with many others having begun the ratification process. It will enter into force on 1 January 2019, provided at least 20 instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval have been deposited by Parties to the Montreal Protocol.

At the event – two days after the 30th anniversary of the agreement of the Protocol – which has set the Earths vital ozone layer on the road to recovery and done more to phase out greenhouse gases than any other measure – Mr. Biruta, who presided over the negotiations that sealed agreement on the amendment last year said: “We have come together to encourage quick ratification of the Kigali Amendment, in doing so we send a strong signal that the world is united in ending the use of HFCs and protecting our climate.”

Catherine McKenna, whose country, with Chile, earlier this year called for “at least 30 Partners to ratify the Amendment by the 30th anniversary meeting of the Montreal Protocol on November 20-24, 2017” added: “We need to get this done… and if everyone just asks one friend…one other minister of environment to encourage them to ratify, we will be able to have a great celebration.

Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment and event panelist, who has also urged for rapid ratification on this anniversary, reminded the group the crucial role energy efficiency improvements plays in the Amendment. “Providing air conditioning is wellbeing, it is health, but we need to do it in a much more energy efficient way. The technology is there to be explored and I am absolutely confident that if we as politicians give the direction, the private sector and market will find the technical solutions for this to happen. They are on the way; they just need to go all the way.” 

Tina Birmpili, Executive Secretary, UN Ozone Secretariat, added: “2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the Protocol’s life and there is no better way to celebrate this anniversary than by seeking country support to ratify the Kigali Amendment and build on the next 30 years.”

The Kigali Amendment provides the largest, fastest, and most secure climate mitigation available in the near-term, avoiding up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century. The HFC phasedown will also enable the improvement of the energy efficiency of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products and equipment that use HFCs as refrigerants.  This will avoid significant amounts of CO2 emissions from the power plants that provide the electricity to run these products and equipment, equal to the production from between nearly 1,600 medium-sized (500 MW) peak-load power plants by 2030, and up to 2,500 power plants by 2050.

Panelists:
  • Mr. Vincent Biruta – Minister of Environment, Rwanda, and MOP President
  • Ms. Catherine McKenna –  Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada
  • Dr. Edgar Gutiérrez – Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, and President of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly
  • Mr. Nicolas Hulot – Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, France
  • Mr. John Silk – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marshall Islands
  • Mr. Erik Solheim – Executive Director, UN Environment
  • Mr. Achim Steiner – Administrator, UN Development Programme
  • Dr. Tina Birmpili – Executive Secretary, UN Ozone Secretariat

IGSD’s HFC Primer is available here.

Nobel Laureate Mario Molina’s Op-Ed on 30th Anniversary is here.

Press inquiries please contact: Giselle Gonzalez – ggonzalez@igsd.org +1 (202) 957 2034.

September 19, 2017 at 8:00 am | Press Releases | No comment


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