Short Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs)
Potent “Super Pollutants” Have Big Climate, Health Impacts
Short-lived climate pollutants like methane, black carbon and HFCs, are potent climate forcers and harmful air pollutants that have an outsized impact on climate change in the near-term. Compared to CO2 and other long-lived climate pollutants, which stay in the atmosphere for centuries, short-lived climate pollutants have shorter lifetimes, but also have a much larger warming impact on a gram-to-gram basis. In addition to significantly reducing the rate of climate change in the near-term, as illustrated in the figure below, reducing emissions of potent super-pollutants is necessary for reaching the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, alongside significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
CCAP’s Super-Pollutant Program focuses on reducing methane emissions from the waste and oil and gas sectors. We also have projects addressing black carbon from heavy duty trucks and spurring replacement of HFCs in the refrigeration and air conditioning sectors.
84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time horizon, methane is responsible for roughly 20-25 percent of current global climate forcing. It also contributes to the formation of tropospheric ozone, which itself is a short-lived climate forcer and harmful to human health and agricultural production. Methane comes from both natural and man-made sources. Key sectors contributing to these emissions include:
- Sanitary landfills
- Oil and natural gas production
- Coal mining
- Waste water
CCAP’s Waste Mitigation Program focuses on reducing methane emissions from the waste sector across Latin America by spearheading policy changes at the national level, advancing sustainable waste management projects at the local level and promoting replication through regional webinars, peer exchanges and dialogues on best practices. The program is showcasing approaches to overcome key barriers to low-GHG waste management solutions and to accelerate project implementation. Successes include national policy changes in Colombia that created economic incentives for alternative sustainable waste treatment technologies, and projects in several Latin American cities, including Quito, Ecuador and Viña del Mar, Chile that advance organic waste treatment methods (e.g., composting and anaerobic digestion).
CCAP’s Oil and Gas Mitigation program works to advance regulatory solutions to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production at a sector scale. Targeting Mexico and other developing countries with oil and gas production, CCAP supports developing countries to (1) identify regulatory opportunities to reduce oil and gas sector climate pollution emissions; (2) fill data, legal and technical gaps; and (3) define specific approaches that can be implemented successfully, including through the replication and adaptation of strong examples used elsewhere.
HFCs are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions and have potency thousands of times greater than CO2. These super-pollutants are used as refrigerants and in air conditioning, foams, aerosols, and other applications. In some cases, there are opportunities to enhance the overall climate benefit by coupling HFC mitigation with actions to boost the efficiency of refrigeration and cooling equipment.
- CCAP designed the Colombia Household Refrigeration NAMA (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action) that was later selected by the NAMA Facility for implementation with GIZ as a delivery partner. The NAMA outlined a national program to replace old refrigerators (mainly the ones still using CFC-based refrigerants) for new and more efficient units. It focused on supporting companies in phasing out HFC-based refrigerants in favor of hydrocarbon-based ones, as well as providing tax benefits for people choosing to substitute their old equipment. This led to the inclusion of efficient refrigerators in a VAT reduction (from 19% to 5%) in the 2017 tax reform.
- CCAP is partnering with the Philippines to consider how the Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMO) framework might support higher climate ambition and advance the country’s own climate goals through elaboration of virtual pilot projects. In particular, the partnership is considering how the ITMO framework might advance HFC reductions and improved efficiency across the fisheries food cold chain.
- In earlier work, CCAP’s analysis and recommendations to the state of Massachusetts on reducing HFCs in commercial refrigeration (replacement of HFC direct expansion systems with HFC distributed systems in retail fuel settings) resulted in the inclusion of this measure in the state’s climate protection plan.
Black carbon, or soot, is a component of toxic particulate matter, which is a leading environmental and health hazard. Black carbon exists in the atmosphere for days, so emissions reductions deliver immediate climate and local health benefits. The transport sector is a major contributor to ambient fine particles in major cities, and emits some 19% of global black carbon. Recent research has identified diesel vehicles and engines as one of the most attractive sectors for black carbon mitigation. A number of well-understood technological solutions are now available to virtually eliminate black carbon.
Focused on heavy duty diesel in the US, CCAP works in partnership with UC Berkeley and environmental justice activists to implement a new California law—AB617—that sets in motion a new regulatory approach to limit harmful air pollution at a local scale. This law was informed by a series of dialogues hosted by UC Berkeley to help stakeholders voice their concerns and consider possible solutions to limit excessive exposures to harmful pollution that disproportionately affects low income and minority communities. The final report, which included strategies to limit diesel particulates from freight, can be found here.
Now that the law is passed, a main focus of our work has been on reducing diesel emissions from the Port of Oakland and the community of West Oakland—a disadvantaged community that has been selected by the California Air Resources Board to implement an emission reduction program in the first round of implementation. CCAP recently published a report that catalogs a broad array of funding programs available to reduce the cost of clean transport equipment and increase investment in low- and zero-polluting freight equipment in California.
 SLCP lifetimes range from days (in the case of black carbon) to decades, depending on the pollutant.