New and integrated initiatives to boost efforts to address climate and clean air

 Smoke and steam rise from a coal processing plant in Hejin in central China's Shanxi Province on Nov. 28, 2019. [AP Photo]

New and integrated initiatives have been formed to boost efforts to address the triple planet crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

This is after Government Ministers and partners of the UNEP-convened Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) put in place a raft of integrated climate and clean air initiatives designed to combat the triple planetary crisis.

At the CCAC’s annual Climate & Clean Air Ministerial Meeting, which took place in Nairobi last Thursday at UNEP headquarters ahead of the sixth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), countries and partners launched a Clean Air Flagship effort. 

It is meant to provide a platform to boost regional coordination and private sector engagement, data-led policy action, financing, science and advocacy. 

Representatives from the public, private, and non-profit sectors discussed how to scale up the implementation of country commitments to reducing emissions through the Global Methane Pledge and the Kigali Amendment through transformative action across key sectors. 

During the meeting, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the CCAC launched a new report, Used Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDV) and the Environment.   

The report reveals that CO2 emissions associated with heavy-duty vehicles have surged by over 30 per cent since 2000 and outlines a roadmap for reducing sector emissions through standardising, monitoring, and greening freight strategies.

“We need to push harder on super pollutants. I encourage all of you to build on the momentum from COP28. Include super pollutants in Nationally Determined Contributions as they are being renewed. Finalize Methane Roadmaps. And, crucially, find new ways to finance action,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director.

She added: “Just as you need a superhero to defeat a supervillain, we need super solutions to face down super pollutants. And we need you to mastermind these solutions.”

Cities are often on the front line of pollution and climate action, but have limited access to finance, so the CCAC provides platforms to discuss the importance of multi-level governance, including through its work with the C40 Cities network. 

The C40 is a global network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities that are united in action to confront the climate crisis. 

They are committed to using an inclusive, science-based and collaborative approach to cut their fair share of emissions in half by 2030, help the world limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities. 

Partners also welcomed a CCAC Technology and Economic Assessment Panel to help close the gap between technologies and finance by focusing on cost of measures, business models and how to overcome barriers to scale up climate finance.

“I think everyone here knows that we're a very long way from winning the fight for clean air, clean water, and for a healthy planet,” said Ibrahim Auma, Nairobi County Executive for Green Nairobi.

The CCAC exemplifies the principles of multilateralism and robust partnership, showcasing how coordination and cooperation helps to tackle multiple crises.

“Ghana sets an example as a founding member, pioneering the integration of short-lived climate pollutants and other air pollutants into our fourth official National Greenhouse Gas Inventory submitted to the UNFCCC," said Peter Dery, CCAC Co-Chair and Director, Environment Division Director at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in Ghana.

“The very essence of life starts with a breath, a gasp of air that signifies the beginning of our journey on this earth. Yet, for too many across our globe, this fundamental act of breathing has become a hazard, a risk, a gamble against the odds of pollution and climate-induced adversities,” said Kenyan environmentalist Elizabeth Wathuti, who founded the Green Generation Initiative.

She added: “Our commitment to clean air and a stable climate is not just an environmental cause, it is a fight for the very right to life.”