Non-CO₂ Mitigation

Reducing super pollutants protects people and the climate
Reducing carbon dioxide levels is essential to climate stabilization, but other pollutants — specifically, methane, hydrofluorocarbons (F-gases), black carbon, and ground-level ozone — also contribute to the problem. Pound-for-pound they can be thousands of times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. At the same time, some are significant causes of mortality through respiratory diseases, as well as local environmental degradation. Aggressively reducing emissions of these pollutants supports a healthy climate while also providing significant public health, social, and economic benefits.

Strategies and Initiatives

The Non-CO₂ Mitigation Portfolio seeks rapid and steep reductions of black carbon, F-gases, and methane emissions in China, India, Europe, and the Americas.

Methane Leakage

The US shale development boom heightened public concern about methane emissions, but the phenomenon of leaky natural gas infrastructure is global. Fortunately, cost-effective technology, strong regulations, and effective enforcement can substantially reduce methane leakage from oil and gas production. Minimizing such leaks is also needed even while shifting away from fossil fuels, due to the large amount of existing operations. ClimateWorks and its partners are advocating for methane controls in leading countries around the world, and through intergovernmental and industry initiatives. Once best practices have been established and implemented, these efforts will expand to other oil and gas producing regions around the globe.

International Shipping Emissions

Ocean-going vessels are a growing contributor to total global warming pollution. Ships transiting through northern shipping routes pose an additional threat since their sooty emissions deposit on Arctic snow and ice, hastening the melting process, and carriage of sludgy fuel oil is a hazard to the natural environment in the event of accidents. Increased fuel efficiency, lower sulfur fuel, improved engine design, slower speeds, and exhaust after-treatment can significantly reduce marine-related emissions immediately. New forms of zero-carbon fuels and propulsion are just starting to become commercialized and hold out the prospect of shipping pulling its weight in the move to a zero carbon future. ClimateWorks and its partners are advocating for stronger global regulations by the International Marine Organization and by individual coastal nations, while addressing options for industry to move to a new generation of clean vessels.

Diesel Vehicles & Engines

Diesel exhaust is loaded with black carbon, also known as soot. Particulate filters combined with low-sulfur fuel can cut black carbon emissions from diesel vehicles and engines by 99 percent; and with the rapid momentum of zero-emissions vehicles around the world, bans on diesel vehicles and other restrictions are making the choice between clean and unhealthy clearer than ever. Rapid, worldwide introduction of these technologies and the retirement or retrofitting of older, dirty diesels are essential to slowing climate change and protecting public health. ClimateWorks and its partners support efforts to speed such technologies to market, while advancing parallel strategies to increase efficiency, promote clean vehicle technologies, and deploy smarter mass transportation systems.

Implementing & Extending Fluorocarbon Controls 

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is a major climate achievement. Implementation of the agreement’s HFC phase-down, which entered into force in January 2019, is a big lift in many parts of the world, though the pace can still be sped up. In addition, there is a massive ticking time bomb of all f-gases (not just HFCs but also CFCs and HCFCs) already installed in equipment which also have massive climate impacts when they leak or are vented. Tackling the full lifecycle of f-gases and switching rapidly to alternatives will help prevent direct GHG impacts, while implementing simultaneous efficiency improvements can multiply the benefits.

Alignment & Data Gathering

Several other foundations and multilateral agencies are active in the non-CO₂ mitigation space. Coordination with these groups – including other foundations, the Climate & Clean Air Coalition, and the World Bank – is needed to maximize returns on non-CO₂ investments. Similarly, there is a need for data and analyses. ClimateWorks and its partners generate and make available data on non-CO₂ mitigation methods, demonstrating their applicability to various geographies to help advance increasingly ambitious strategies.

2018 Grantmaking

Portfolio Team

Catherine Witherspoon

Catherine Witherspoon

Senior Advisor


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Climate change calls for coordinated global action. ClimateWorks empowers philanthropic donors with a range of strategies to help address the challenge.