Clinton Announces Climate Effort: Includes HFCs

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a six-country voluntary effort to reduce three short-lived climate pollutants: black carbon, methane, and HFCs. Representatives of Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, and Sweden joined in the announcement at the State of Department in front of several hundred representatives from government, industry, environmental organizations, and the science community, including the Alliance.

Clinton stated that these three greenhouse gases account for one-third of current global climate change, and that fast action to reduce these gases can slow the warming expected by 2050 by as much as 0.5 degrees Celsius.  That is 25% of the ultimate goal to reduce warming by 2 degrees Celsius, a goal that has been stated by many addressing climate protection.  She stated that there will be a noticeable effect on climate in short order.  Short-lived climate pollutants remain in the atmosphere for only a few days to a few years after they are emitted.  This is very short when compared to carbon dioxide.  This shorter atmospheric lifetime means that actions to reduce emissions will quickly lower atmospheric concentrations of these pollutants, yielding a relatively rapid climate response.

The effort, entitled “The Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants” will focus on reducing these gases through new actions, and will bolster existing efforts to address emissions reductions.  The coalition will help countries develop national action plans, provide technical support, build capacity among developing countries, mobilize public and private funds for action, raise awareness globally, foster regional and international cooperation, and improve scientific understanding of the impacts and mitigation of these gases.

Clinton noted that the US is already engaged in many programs on the domestic and international levels to address these gases such as the Global Methane Initiative, the Montreal Protocol, the Arctic Council, and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.   The coalition will complement current actions that continue to be undertaken by the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson further noted that efforts to address HFCs have been undertaken at EPA under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP).  

It is unclear which new efforts will be undertaken to address HFCs.  Representatives of the State Department and EPA have told the Alliance that linking HFCs reaches a broader audience and gains more visibility for the efforts that have been proposed under the Montreal Protocol.  It provides another avenue to talk to countries.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will host the effort.  So far $12 million from the US, and $3 million from Canada have been pledged to support the coalition.  The partners invite other countries to join the coalition.   The first meeting will take place in Sweden in April.

Speeches may be found at the following link: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/02/184061.htm

A fact sheet may be found at the following link: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/02/184055.htm