Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Mexico Commits to Unconditional Reduction of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

Shows Strong Ambition for December Climate Talks

30 March 2015 – On Friday Mexico made an unconditional pledge to reduce black carbon soot (BC) and other short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to climate protection, along with reduction of long-lived carbon dioxide and other climate pollutants. The announcement shows Mexico’s strong ambition for the climate negotiations in Paris this December. Mexico stated that it will use its own national resources to reduce SLCPs, which also include HFCs, used primarily as refrigerants and to make insulating foams, and methane, from oil and gas exploration and transmission, landfills, agriculture, and other sources. Mexico is the first developing country to release its INDCs ahead of the December Conference of the Parties.

“Mexico’s INDC is the first to recognize the importance of reducing black carbon and the other short-lived climate pollutants to achieve fast climate protection,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “If other countries follow Mexico’s lead and reduce their own SLCPs, we can cut the rate of global warming in half and Artic warming by two-thirds in the near term through mid-century.  We also can save several million lives a year now lost to these climate pollutants, and improve food security.” Zaelke added that “Black carbon is the second most powerful climate pollutant behind carbon dioxide, and reducing it is one of the fastest ways to slow warming. Mexico was wise to include it, even though black carbon is not in the formal basket of climate gases.”

Mexico noted that its SLCP mitigation strategy was informed by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC).  The CCAC is the only international organization focused on reducing the package of SLCPs.  It was formed three years ago and now has 45 country partners, along with the World Bank, UNEP, UNDP and WHO.  It also has 54 nongovernmental organizations as partners.  The CCAC’s INDC guidance note stated:

“…16 key measures, targeting methane and BC-rich sources, which if deployed globally by 2030 could avoid about 0.5°C of additional warming by 2050, prevent approximately 2.4 million deaths annually…, and avoid about 50 million tonnes of lost crop yields by reducing concentrations of ground level ozone. A rapid phase down of high-GWP HFCs, as has been proposed under the Montreal Protocol, could increase the prevented warming by 20% to a total of 0.6°C by 2050.  Additional carbon dioxide reductions may also be achieved from improvements in combustion efficiency due to BC and methane measures, and if an HFC phase down leads to significant energy efficiency gains, such as the 30-60% efficiency gains achieved in appliances in past phase outs of fluorinated gases.”

At the same time Mexico issued its INDC, the U.S. and Mexico issued a joint statement expressing their commitment to “enhanced cooperation on air quality and climate policy, including harmonization and implementation of heavy-duty diesel and light duty emission standards, common programs to reduce reliance on HFCs, and technical cooperation on black carbon.”  The two countries also will “deepen policy and regulatory coordination” through measures including appliance standards and energy efficiency.

In addition to the commitment of reducing black carbon emissions by 51% by 2030, the INDC target also includes a pledge to cap greenhouse gas emissions by 2026, and cut carbon 22% below business-as-usual levels by 2030.

The U.S. is expected to announce its INDC tomorrow.