Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a new climate program in mid February, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants. The initiative, launched by the United States, Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the UN Environmental Programme, is aimed at reducing short-lived warming agents such as black carbon, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in foam and refrigerants. These pollutants only remain in the atmosphere for a little while when compared to carbon dioxide, yet still account for some one third of current global warming.
“They ... destroy millions of tons of crops every year and wreak havoc on people’s health,” said Secretary Clinton:
“Millions die annually from constantly breathing in black carbon soot that comes from cook-stoves in their own homes, from diesel cars and trucks on their roads, from the open burning of agricultural waste in their fields.”
There are numerous ways to significantly diminish black carbon and methane emissions. We know that black carbon can be reduced by installing filters on diesel engines, replacing sooty old cook-stoves with cleaner-burning models, and banning the open burning of agricultural waste. To lower the amount of methane escaping into the atmosphere, we can fix leaky pipelines and capture it as it emanates from oil and gas wells, coal mines, landfills, wastewater treatment plants, manure piles and rice paddies. What’s more, captured methane can be an abundant source of energy.
The founding partners have committed $15 million to get the coalition up and running. The United States will commit $12 million over two years to the effort.
“Climate change is one of the most serious and complex problems facing our world,” said Secretary Clinton. “We know its impacts. It impacts global security, the global economy, global food and water supplies, and the health and well-being of people everywhere. And we know that in the principal effort necessary to reduce the effects of carbon dioxide, the world has not yet done enough. So when we discover effective and affordable ways to reduce global warming– not just a little, but by a lot– it is a call to action.”