In a visit to Sweden this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for greater international cooperation to address climate change.
“We do need more action in the fight against climate change. We need real-world solutions and we need results,” said Clinton in a meeting with environmental officials.
Secretary Clinton and Sweden’s Minister for the Environment, Lena Ek, announced the launch of a global awareness campaign as part of the Clean Air and Climate Coalition to spread information about the potential for cost-effective solutions to combat short-lived climate pollutants (slcp’s). Short-lived climate pollutants — such as black carbon, soot, methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and tropospheric ozone — are shorter lived than carbon dioxide, but much more potent. They contribute to more than 30 percent of current global warming and limiting them can significantly reduce temperatures.
Many of the solutions to avoid SLCP’s already exist but are not being utilized. The coalition is working with industry to share solutions and spread information on the benefits of action. Addressing the problem isn’t just good for climate — it’s good for human health. Action to reduce slcp emissions can save 2.5 million lives a year by improving air quality, and increase crop yields by 30 to 135 million metric tons by 2030.
Minister Ek pointed out that there are also important social benefits, as solutions for global warming also offer opportunities to promote gender equality and women’s rights.
The Clean Air and Climate Coalition was launched in February, 2012. The Coalition got a boost last month when G8 members joined at Camp David, bringing the membership to 16 countries plus the European Commission, United Nations Environment Program, and the World Bank.
Both Clinton and Ek affirmed commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But Clinton said these ongoing (and complicated) efforts should not prevent action now to reduce slcp’s.
“While we continue to work on bringing down carbon dioxide emissions and finalizing an international agreement, let’s also deliver a blow to methane, black carbon, and HFCs. We are poised to do both, and we should,” said Clinton.
At the upcoming Rio +20 UN Earth Summit, the coalition will announce plans to engage with oil and gas companies to cut methane through waste-reduction partnerships with cities.
Rebecca Lefton is a Policy Analyst with the International Policy Team at the Center for American Progress.