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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.

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

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 catalyzing 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 the 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 the 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.

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 only NGOs to have been presented with this award).

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.

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-meter 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 statue was unveiled at the UN offices in Vienna.

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

Biographies of recipients of the Ozone Awards 2017 are here.

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

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 20th, there are now 21 ratifications officially on file with the UN depository.]

IGSD’s HFC Primer is here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 scientists, 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 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 Nations 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