IGSD

Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

The Center for Climate Integrity

The Center for Climate Integrity is a project of IGSD.  The Center educates the public about the costs of climate change and provides support for legal action to protect citizens and communities from the impacts of a rapidly warming world.

September 28, 2017 at 10:39 am | Resources | 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 | Feature homepage, Press Releases | No comment


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

Today at 6:30 p.m. at UN Headquarters in New York, Conference Room 11 the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Rwanda, Dr. Vincent Biruta, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada, Catherine McKenna, will host a high-level event on Ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

Panelists will include Mr. John Silk, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marshall Islands, and Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment, who has also urged for rapid ratification on this anniversary.

The co-hosts, Minister Vincent Biruta of Rwanda, who presided over the Kigali Amendment negotiations at the Meeting of the Parties in Rwanda last October, and Minister McKenna of Canada, are urging all countries to ratify the Kigali Amendment as soon as possible and to start implementing it to maximize its climate benefits.

Panelists:
  • Vincent Biruta – Minister of Environment, Rwanda, and MOP President
  • Catherine McKenna –  Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada
  • Edgar Gutiérrez – Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, and President of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly
  • Nicolas Hulot – Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, France
  • John Silk – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marshall Islands
  • Erik Solheim – Executive Director, UN Environment
  • Achim Steiner – Administrator, UN Development Programme
  • Tina Birmpili – Executive Secretary, UN Ozone Secretariat
  • Mr. Miroslav Lajčák – President of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (TBC)
  • Amina Mohamed – Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (TBC)
Background on the Kigali Amendment

The Kigali Amendment to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) was adopted the 14th of October 2016. The Amendment is to 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. To date, six countries have ratified the Amendment – Mali, the Federate States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Rwanda, Palau, and Norway – with many other having notified they have begun the ratification process.

Canada, along with Chile, have called for “at least 30 Partners ratify the Amendment by the 30th anniversary meeting of the Montreal Protocol on November 20-24, 2017.”

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 improve the energy efficiency of air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products and equipment that use HFCs as refrigerants.  This will avoid significant amounts of CO2 emission 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.

At the last UNGA in September 2016, a group of donor countries and philanthropists announced they were providing $80 million in support to help countries in need of assistance implement the Kigali Amendment and improve energy efficiency.

Nobel Laureate Mario Molina’s Op-Ed on 30th Anniversary is here. IGSD’s HFC Primer is here. Press inquiries please contact: Giselle Gonzalez – ggonzalez@igsd.org, +1 (202) 957 2034.

September 18, 2017 at 8:00 am | News | No comment


New Reports Detail Essential Climate Policies Needed to Limit Warming Below 2°Celsius

CO2 Mitigation Is Crucial but Alone Cannot Prevent Dangerous and Possibly Catastrophic Temperature Increases, Finds Study Authored by 33 Leading Experts

Cutting Short-Lived Super Climate Pollutants Critical; Atmospheric Carbon Extraction Also Needed; Only Fast Action Can Avoid Tipping Points and Possible Existential Risks

14 September 2017, New York – Two new studies released today find that global temperature increases can be limited to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as global leaders have pledged through the Paris Agreement, but only if the world quickly pursues three cooling strategies: decarbonizing the global energy system by mid-century; drastically reducing emissions of short-lived super climate pollutants like HFCs, methane, and black carbon by 2020; and undertaking atmospheric carbon extraction, which will be needed if CO2 emissions do not peak by 2020.

These are the conclusions of a matched pair of reports released 14 September in the run up to the United Nation’s Climate Week. 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, 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 (PNAS), outline three  science-based strategies, or policy levers, that could limit warming to well under 2°C.

Failing to take fast and aggressive action could lead to existential threats to the entire world’s population, as well as many species. This is likely the first time scientific reports written by climate scientists have concluded that unchecked climate changes pose such existential threats.

“These reports shine a bright light on the existential threat that climate change presents to all humanity,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “Scientists have many ideas about how to reduce emissions, but they all agree on the urgency of strong and decisive action to remove carbon from the economy.”

“The world has cumulatively emitted about 2.2 trillion tons of CO2 to date, and policymakers have previously assumed that we could emit up to 3.7 trillion tons and remain below dangerous levels.  We show in our paper, however, that there is a 1 in 20 chance that emission beyond the current 2.2 trillion tons presents catastrophic and perhaps even an existential risk. This could include exposing about 7 billion people to deadly heat stress; 2.5 billion people to viruses such as Zika and chikungunya; and expose close to 20% of species to dangers of extinction,” said Professor V. Ramanathan who is the lead co-chair of the report, with Nobel Laureate Mario Molina, and Durwood Zaelke, President of IGSD. Ramanathan also co-authored the PNAS study. “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 two studies is that there is still time to avoid catastrophic changes.”

“Climate change is an urgent problem requiring urgent solutions,” said Dr. Mario Molina, Nobel Laureate and lead co-chair of the report. “We have less than a decade to put these solutions in place around the world to preserve nature and our quality of life for generations to come. The time is now.”

Pulling the first lever to drastically reduce emissions of short-lived super climate pollutants (SLCPs) beginning now would avoid warming in 2100 by up to 1.2°C. The SLCP lever is essential for slowing near-term warming and can be implemented today with existing technologies, and often with existing laws and institutions such as the HFC phasedown under the Montreal Protocol as a result of the landmark Kigali Amendment in 2016.

The second lever, to achieve carbon neutrality, calls for decarbonizing the global energy system by 2050 through the use of renewables and improvements in energy intensity. The maximum feasible warming reduction would be 2.8°C by 2100. If, in addition to bending the SLCPs emissions curve, the CO2 emissions peak in 2020 and reach zero by 2050, the authors suggest there is less than a 20% probability of exceeding 2°C.

The third lever, atmospheric carbon extraction, is added as an insurance against surprises due to policy lapses, mitigation delays, and non-linear climate changes. If emissions of CO2 and SLCPs start to decrease by 2020 and carbon neutrality is achieved by 2050, the amount of carbon that must be removed will be nearly negligible. However, if CO2 emissions continue until 2030, as is likely, a staggering one trillion tons of carbon extraction would be needed.

Figure 1. Adapted from Supporting Information Table S1: The contribution of individual mitigation measures to the warming in the 21st century (Xu & Ramanathan, 2017).

However, full implementation of the three-lever strategy requires the global mobilization of financial and technical resources. The Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius Report goes on to describe ten scalable solutions for the global economy and society to achieve such rapid reduction in short-lived super climate pollutants by 2030, and carbon neutrality and climate stability by 2050.

“These papers show in the starkest possible terms that what we do in the next 15 to 20 years will determine what the world looks like for the next few hundred if not few thousand years—and it won’t be pretty if we don’t step up our game,” said Durwood Zaelke, one of the three co-chairs of the Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius Report and President of IGSD.

The existential risks the world faces without aggressive mitigation beyond the pledges under the Paris Agreement should inspire humanity to act with unprecedented urgency, according to the authors. In the absence of fast and aggressive mitigation, the world faces non-linear climate tipping points that can lead to self-reinforcing and cascading climate change impacts. These include the ice/snow albedo feedback of retreating Arctic sea ice; melting of Tibetan-Himalayan glaciers by climate pollutants including black carbon soot; retreating of extra tropical cloud systems which protect the planet from warming by reflecting enormous amounts of sunlight back to space; release of methane and CO2 from thawing permafrost; and reduced uptake of carbon by the warmer oceans, among others. These abrupt shifts, or ‘climate wild cards’, are irreversible on a human time scale and would create a notable disruption to the climate systems, condemning the world to warming beyond that which we have previously projected.

The studies point out that the feasibility of the fast, aggressive three-lever mitigation strategy implemented through the 10 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 SLCPs. CO2 emission curves in the U.S. and E.U. have already started to bend since 2005. The multitude of examples in our recent past—further expanded upon in the report— provide hopeful cases of humanity’s ability to mobilize to achieve our collective environmental objectives.

The good news in the two studies is that practical solutions exist and are ready to be scaled up immediately to deliver climate benefits in the next few critical decades, placing the world on a path to achieving the long-term targets of the Paris Agreement and near-term sustainable development goals.

“While time is short, we can still avoid catastrophic and the potential existential risks, though we’ll have to really kick these strategies into high gear—akin to a war footing,” said Zaelke.

Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius: Fast Action Policies to Protect People and the Planet from Extreme Climate Change is here.

The PNAS paper, Well Below 2°C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes, is here.   IGSD’s plain language summary of the PNAS paper is here. SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography press release on the PNAS paper is here.

September 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Feature homepage, Press Releases | No comment


Tata Motors and MAHLE partner together to develop a prototype Secondary Loop Mobile Air Conditioning System on a vehicle

13 July 2017Tata Motors Limited and MAHLE, one of the world’s 20 largest suppliers to the automotive industry, have signed a joint development agreement for designing and developing a Secondary Loop Mobile Air Conditioning System (SL–MAC), under the aegis of United Nations Environment. MAHLE and Tata Motors, along with the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), which is coordinating the project, received funding for developing the SL-MAC system from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), a global initiative to support fast action and make a difference in the areas of climate, public health, and food and energy security. This project envisages use and trial of environment friendly, low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants HF01234yf (ASHRAE A2L) and HFC-152a (ASHRAE A2).

A team comprising of representatives of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the Mobile Air Conditioning Society Worldwide (MACS), the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), MAHLE, Tata Motors, and IGSD reviewed the newly constructed SL-MAC system and the prototype at the MAHLE Behr facility in Lockport, New York, USA, on 7 April 2017.

A Tata vehicle based on a new generation platform for utility vehicles, consisting of a more complex architecture with front and rear air conditioning system, has been selected for this joint development program. The SL–MAC system will first be installed in the Tata utility vehicle as a prototype. In the SL-MAC system, the alternative refrigerants first cool a secondary fluid/coolant, which in turn cools the air to comfortable temperatures inside the vehicle cabin. This process allows the safe use of slightly flammable refrigerants that have a low GWP and in turn achieves high cooling capacity, minimizing the losses and achieving an optimized overall thermodynamic efficiency in the process. This is in contrast to the conventional mobile AC system, where the cabin air is directly cooled by the refrigerant HFC-134a, which is ozone safe but has a high GWP.

According to Dr. Tim Leverton, Chief Technology Officer, Tata Motors – “Tata Motors has been at the forefront of innovation and is constantly working towards shaping the future of mobility. As a part of our R &D efforts, we are committed to pioneering and inventing solutions to a greener future in the auto industry and this initiative is a step in that direction. We are the first OEM in India who is developing and evaluating an SL-MAC system on a car, using environmentally friendly refrigerants. We are delighted to work with class leading global suppliers like MAHLE and institutions like IGSD to contribute to the United Nations Environment initiative.”

The new SL-MAC system, which is testing the low-GWP refrigerants, is expected to increase vehicle energy efficiency through engineering. This system will turn off the compressor during acceleration and will retain coolness when the compressor is inactive or the engine is turned off for a short duration, allowing rapid cool-down at re-start. In addition to the expected energy efficiency benefits (fuel saving of up to 3%), the SL-MAC system allows the use of refrigerants that should avoid flow into the vehicle cabin. The refrigerant never enters the passenger compartment and instead stays in the engine area. Only the coolant circulates through the interior air conditioning unit.

According to Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, PhD, Director of Research for IGSD – “The Secondary Loop System will permit the use of alternative refrigerants like HFC-152a (GWP of 138) and HFO-1234yf (GWP<1) which have much lower GWPs than the current most-commonly used refrigerant, HFC-134a (GWP of 1300). We will be comparing the life-cycle carbon footprint of HFC-152a – with a higher GWP offset by higher energy efficiency – to the carbon footprint of HFO-1234yf and we will be estimating the cost of manufacture and ownership for each system.”

The SL-MAC project is on schedule, as expected, with anticipated environmental and cost advantages to be determined in the next stages. The prototype will be tested on the Indian roads later in the third quarter of 2017, where long seasons of hot and humid weather and stop-start driving conditions make a secondary loop air conditioning system highly advantageous.

For further information, please contact:

MAHLE- Jeff Trent, Jeff.trent@us.mahle.com, +1-423-318-3124

MAHLE- Alma Zgodic, Alma.zgodic@us.mahle.com, +1-248-743-8045

IGSD- Dr. N. J. Sherman, nsherman@igsd.org,+1-434-409-0346

Tata Motors Limited- Communications, indiacorpcomm@tatamotors.com, +91 22-66657613

July 13, 2017 at 2:00 am | Press Releases | No comment


The Quest for a Better Air Conditioner

In a warming world, air conditioning must become super efficient

 

7 July 2017, Washington, D.C. –As the world prepares to replace current refrigerants with climate-friendly alternatives, there is an opportunity to increase energy efficiency of air conditioners and other cooling equipment, cutting air pollution and saving consumers money on their electricity bill.

The success of this dual strategy would avoid an additional 100 billion tons of CO2, while providing an expanding market for U.S. industry that has already invested in the development of climate friendly refrigerants in anticipation of the last year’s amendment to the Montreal Protocol that now mandates the phase down of current hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) refrigerants that is estimated to itself avoid up to 100 billion tons of CO2 or more.

Air conditioning (AC) use is responsible for a large and increasing fraction of electricity demand and peak load, particularly in large metropolitan cities in emerging economies and hot climates. For example, space cooling uses 40-60% of the summer peak electric load in Delhi, India. A simultaneous transition to the use of climate-friendly refrigerants in the world stock of room ACs with a ~30% improvement of efficiency would avoid peak load equivalent to over 1,500 power plants by 2030, reducing CO2 along with other air pollutants associated with AC use while minimizing cost.

These are the conclusions of a report for the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) in Washington, DC and Paris written by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  The report, “Opportunities for Simultaneous Efficiency Improvement and Refrigerant Transition in Air Conditioning,” reviews the hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) and hydrofluorocarbons regulatory frameworks, energy efficiency standards, and labeling programs in 19 countries that account for roughly 65% of global AC demand.

Project Drawdown ranks the HFC transition as the single biggest climate mitigation opportunity available today, and now we can double that with the parallel AC efficiency strategy,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of IGSD. “Our ultimate goal with this tandem strategy is to avoid a full 1°C of warming by the end of the century.”

A $52 million Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program was established in the lead up the Kigali Amendment to help developing countries make the transition to more efficient cooling equipment while phasing down HFCs. The World Bank also announced a $1 billion loan fund to ramp up appliance efficiency while phasing down HFCs.

“Previous refrigerant transitions under the Montreal Protocol have catalyzed energy efficiency improvements of cooling appliances in the range of 30 to 60%, and the focused strategies identified here can do even more this time,” Zaelke added.

HCFCs and HFCs are used primarily as refrigerants in ACs and other refrigeration systems, and are the fastest growing category of greenhouse gases. They are super greenhouse gases that can be up to 4,000 times more potent warmers than CO2. In a warming world, global AC use is growing fast, driven by demand in emerging economies with hot climates and rising incomes that are also undergoing rapid urbanization and electrification.

The Parties to the Montreal Protocol agreed on a global schedule to phase down HFCs last October. Called the Kigali Amendment because it was agreed in the capital of Rwanda, this amendment will avoid nearly 100 billion tons of CO2 by 2050 and up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100.

“This report builds on our previous work in this field and identifies key opportunities to improve efficiency globally in tandem with the Montreal Protocol and keep costs low for consumers,” said lead researcher Dr. Nihar Shah at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a DOE national laboratory managed and operated by The Regents of the University of California.

All 19 countries reviewed have energy efficiency improvement policies such as standards, labels in place, with minimum efficiency levels for the most common types of room ACs. Some of these policies, however, have not been revised for over 10 years, and the minimum efficiency levels can vary by more than a factor of two. Policy recommendations to address higher standards, costs, and the speed of policy development are described to ensure current and future market transformation programs produce the greatest benefit possible to consumers, producers, and the environment. Government procurement focusing on super efficient AC, and private buyers clubs that do the same by aggregating demand to drive up efficiency and drive down prices are other strategies, along with import/export restrictions.

IGSD’s Primer on Hydrofluorocarbons is here.

The full LBNL report is here.

LBNL’s earlier report on AC efficiency, Benefits of Leapfrogging to Superefficiency and Low Global Warming Potential Refrigerants in Air Conditioning  (2015), is here.

July 7, 2017 at 5:58 am | Feature homepage, Press Releases | No comment


Élysée Palace Announces Opening of IGSD Office in Paris

IGSD Responds to President’s invitation to come to Paris to “Make the Planet Great Again” 

8 June 2017 Paris France– The Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD) became the first climate research group to accept French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to France to work together on the fight against climate change.

“This is the right place and the right time for fast climate mitigation alongside a President who has demonstrated he can respond to our global climate challenges with speed,” said Durwood Zaelke, IGSD President.

President Emmanuel Macron first extended the invitation in an official statement released June 1st by reiterating his commitment to fighting climate change and to the Paris Agreement. The invitation was extended to “all scientist, engineers, entrepreneurs, [and] responsible citizens” in efforts to come and work together in France on concrete solutions for “our planet, our environment.”

The following week IGSD proceed to opened a new office in Île Saint-Louis, Paris. The Palace of Élysée welcomed IGSD through a video interview with Maxime Beaugrand, IGSD Senior Law Fellow and French Native, and IGSD’s President, now viewed over 75 thousand times.

“We took this invitation to heart and with pride and determination we decided to move immediately to open our office,” said Ms. Beaugrand. “Faced with growing climate impacts, we believe that the world needs leadership that is clear, strong, and innovative. We believe President Macron can support IGSD’s fast mitigation campaign, including strengthening support for the Paris Agreement and the ratification of the Kigali Amendment,” she added.

In support of his climate strategy President Macron also launched the new website MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain.fr.

“We are rising to President Macron’s challenge to ‘make the Planet great again,” added Zaelke, “France is home to a host of leading climate institutions and we look forward to working together with them on fast mitigation solutions.” These institutions include the Clean Climate and Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), the United Nation Environment’s OzonAction, and the International Energy Agency, among others.

IGSD’s main office is in Washington DC. Zaelke also teaches Climate Justice at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, along with his IGSD colleague, Romina Picolotti, the former Minister of Environment from Argentina.

The original Élysée announcement can be found here (Facebook) and here (Twitter)

For Paris inquiries please contact Maxime Beaugrand- mbeaugrand@igsd.org, Tel: +33 687-690-044

June 14, 2017 at 11:32 am | Feature homepage, Press Releases | No comment


Arctic States Commit to Reduce Black Carbon Soot Up to 33 per cent

Reaffirm need for fast action to reduce black carbon and methane pollution, in addition to carbon dioxide

Fairbanks, Alaska– Arctic Council Ministers from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and the United States set for the first time a collective goal to reduce black carbon emissions in the Arctic Region and stressed “the need for global action to reduce both long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants” in the Arctic.

Noting with concern that the pace and scale of continuing Arctic warming will depend on “future emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants” the Council adopted the first Pan-Arctic report to achieve collective progress to reduce black carbon and methane emissions by both Arctic and Observer States. The Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane; Summary of Progress and Recommendations report sets a goal to drastically reduce black carbon emissions by at least 25–33 percent below 2013 levels by 2025.

“The Arctic is the fastest-warming part of the planet, warming up roughly twice as fast as the rest of the globe,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Protecting this rapidly warming region requires immediate, targeted action against the climate pollutants causing massive harm right now,” Zaelke added.

Black carbon and methane emissions reductions are a critical opportunity to cut the rate of global warming in half and to cut the rate of warming in the Arctic by two thirds over the next few decades. This will provide targeted protection for the most vulnerable peoples in addition to preserving glaciers, snow pack, and sea ice. The Expert Group report states that “reducing emissions of black carbon in the Arctic is a major and critical step towards protecting this region from climate damages.”

“Changes in the Arctic could deliver the global disaster we fear, and on a pace that is unmanageable,” said Zaelke. “The Arctic States’ commitment to reduce black carbon and methane emissions is a critical step to maintain the stability of the global climate system and protect those most at risk affected by climate change.”

Reducing short-lived climate pollutants to protect regions like the Arctic plays a critical role in protecting the rest of the global climate system, especially from accelerating climate feedbacks that are particular to the Arctic. Dangerous climate feedbacks have the potential to amplify global warming and unleash major global implications, including the melting of sea ice and snow pack that decreases albedo and increases absorption of solar radiation, the release of massive amounts of methane and carbon dioxide from thawing permafrost and ocean sediments, and the release of carbon dioxide and black carbon from increased boreal forest fires.

The Expert Group report recommends tackling emissions from four priority sectors with substantial warming impact on the Arctic– diesel-powered mobile sources, oil and gas methane leakage, venting and flaring, residential biomass combustion appliances, and solid waste disposal.

To slow the pace of warming over the next two to three decades, both globally and in the Arctic, reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions is an essential complement to global action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, the Expert Group reiterates global action on carbon dioxide and other long-lived greenhouse gases together with SLCPs offers the only path to achieve the internationally agreed goal, as set forth in the Paris Agreement to limit warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and move towards 1.5 degrees Celsius.

A copy of the Fairbanks Declaration 2017 can be found here. The full report Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane; Summary of Progress and Recommendations here. IGSD’s Primer on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants is here.

May 12, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Press Releases | No comment


New strategy needed to cut the rate of global warming in half by 2042 say top scientists

Fast action will also save lives, protect harvests and help meet Sustainable Development Goals

 

Washington, DC, May 5, 2017. Governments must urgently aim to cut the rate of global warming in half over the next 25 years, a group of leading climate scientists concludes today. Meeting this “near-term goal” would involve taking much more rapid action than is envisaged in the groundbreaking Paris Agreement, and require aggressively reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants along with long-lived carbon dioxide.

Writing in today’s issue of Science, the scientists – members of the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which brings together 52 governments, 17 intergovernmental organizations, and 45 NGOs – say that achieving the ambitious goal of slowing warming by 0.5 degree Celsius over the next quarter of a century is “plausible” and would have “many potential benefits” in tackling poverty, improving health and avoiding damage to crops besides reducing climate change.

The Paris Agreement, struck in December 2015, sets a long-term goal of keeping the increase in temperatures to well below two degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels over the course of the 21st century and aims to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But the scientists – from ten universities and leading bodies on four continents – conclude that, without a new strategy the warming increases are “likely to exceed 1.5 degrees C in the 2030s, and exceed two degrees C by mid-century”.

Such rapid temperature rises would also limit the ability of people – especially the poorest and most vulnerable – to adapt, increase damage to biodiversity which is particularly sensitive to the rate of climate change, and speed up damaging feedbacks, such as the way the melting of snow and ice darkens the Earth’s surface, causing it to absorb more heat.

“Speed really matters in climate change,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Fast action could make the difference between living in a safe climate and suffering from uncontrollable impacts, not least from self-amplifying feedback mechanisms that risk irreversible and potentially catastrophic effects”.

“The proposed near-term goal would help focus global action towards immediately available opportunities to avoid disaster,” said co-author Nathan Borgford-Parnell, an IGSD Senior Law Fellow.

The Science paper adds that the key to meeting the goal will be in reducing the emissions of short-term climate pollutants that together cause about half of global warming and are up to thousands of times more potent, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide. Cutting them would have particularly rapid results because they last only weeks to months in the atmosphere, compared to centuries for much of carbon dioxide emissions.

The new paper proposes cutting emissions of one of these short-lived pollutants, methane, by some 75 percent, and another – black carbon, or soot – by some 25 per cent, by around 2030, so as to reach the goal. And it also relies on eliminating high-warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) through quickly ratifying and implementing an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to this end agreed in Kigali last year, which itself can avoid up to 0.5 Celsius by the end of the century.

The strategy would also save lives and crop harvests since black carbon kills some seven million people through air pollution each year, and methane gives rise to ground-level ozone which damages crops and health. The scientists say that it would also cut the cost of meeting the Paris targets and help to achieve the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals.

“If we do not implement near-term strategies and only focus on long-term goals we will miss the opportunity to achieve multiple benefits and reduce premature deaths, avoid millions of tonnes of reduced crop yield and avoid climate-related impacts that will be associated with rapid increases in temperature,” said Dr. Drew Shindell, Professor of Climate Science at Duke University and the paper’s lead author.

“It matters because damages due to climate change are already upon us, affecting the health and livelihoods of those alive today and challenging our ability to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It matters because the rate of warming in the near-term affects the rate of crop failure in developing countries, and the rate of sea-level rise –  and policies to slow the rate have dramatic effects for food security and air quality.”

Johan Kuylenstierna, Policy Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute, added: “Having a near-term goal that achieves benefits across multiple objectives and across multiple parts of the government can motivate action, focus effort and coordinate policy.”

Find the full paper here.

May 4, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Feature homepage, Press Releases | No comment


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