Super pollutants, including methane, hydrofluorocarbons (F-gases), black carbon, and ground-level ozone are essential to curb alongside carbon dioxide. Pound-for-pound they can be thousands of times more damaging to the climate than CO2, and cutting them will yield seven times the global warming reduction by 2050 compared to cutting CO2 alone. At the same time, some are significant causes of mortality through respiratory diseases, as well as causing local environmental degradation. Aggressively reducing emissions of these pollutants supports a healthy climate while also providing significant public health, social, and economic benefits.
The Super Pollutant program seeks rapid and steep reductions of black carbon, F-gases, and methane emissions in China, India, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.
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.
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.
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.
ClimateWorks and partners regularly convene the diverse range of stakeholders working on super pollutants, and together with them have devised the FAST initiative: Fast Action on Super Pollutants Today. FAST has the ambition of raising the profile of super pollutants in policy and philanthropic spaces, highlighting the great benefits to be achieved by eliminating these pollutants by 2050. 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. Our coordination with the broader super pollutants community helps us maximize returns on investments and scan the horizon for new frontiers in policy development.