Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–February 16, 2012. Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States, with Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico and Sweden, is launching a partnership aimed at reducing “short-lived climate forcers,” with a focus on methane, black carbon and hydroflurocarbons, and CAP Chairman John D. Podesta and CAP Senior Fellow Andrew Light co-authored the op-ed “A New Global Partnership to Quicken the Pace of Climate Protection” published in Politico today. An excerpt:
This new coalition to reduce short-lived climate pollutants aims to raise $10 million in the first year to enhance public and private efforts worldwide to reduce these pollutants and scale up as we move forward. We know the bulk of climate pollution comes from carbon dioxide generated from burning fossil fuels for energy. Mitigating this is essential – but has met fierce resistance from fossil fuel industries.
Action now on these gases can have relatively fast benefits. A study in Science last month by an international team of 24 scientists, led by NASA climate modeler Drew Shindell, estimated the effects of initiating 14 methane and black carbon control measures. Combined with other greenhouse gas reductions, these measures would reduce total projected warming by half a degree.
This is significant — given that the international goal to avoid the worst impacts of climate change is to try to stabilize temperature increase caused by humans at 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. These measures would also save millions of lives by improving air quality, and increase crop yields by some 30-135 million metric tons by 2030. With these benefits, the cost is minimal. Reducing a metric ton of methane costs around $250, while the benefit is worth $700-$5,000.
Clinton’s new partnership is not the first time this administration has proposed action on these pollutants. An initiative by the U.S., Mexico and Canada to reduce HFC emissions under the Montreal Protocol has been blocked over the last few years by a handful of countries.
Thursday’s announcement should help to push that effort over the finish line. If successful, it would garner eight times the emission reductions of the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol. Action on these short-lived gases is not a substitute for the needed reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. That will require rapidly transforming America’s energy portfolio by developing clean energy, clean energy technology and clean energy services. But this new initiative is a bold move needed to achieve long-term climate safety for vulnerable people today and future generations tomorrow.
To read the full op-ed, click here.