The European Parliament is calling for fast action to reduce non-CO2 climate forcers including black carbon soot, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), methane, and ground-level ozone, which together are responsible for nearly half of climate forcing. The Parliament’s call for action came in a Resolution passed today by an overwhelming majority (578 to 51 with 22 abstentions).
The Resolution calls for a comprehensive climate policy and “stresses that in addition to considering CO2 emission reductions, it should place emphasis on strategies that can produce the fastest climate response,” specifically strategies to cut black carbon soot, HFCs, methane, and ground-level ozone. Because these climate forcers are short-lived, reducing them produces a fast climate response. This is in contrast to long-lived CO2, where a significant portion remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years. Even cutting CO2 emissions to zero today will not produce cooling for a thousand years.
Action on HFCs and black carbon could begin within 2-3 years and be substantially under way within 5-10 years, say MEPs. Targeting these emissions could be highly cost-effective, they add, since HFCs can be reduced at a public cost of 5-10 cents per tonne, compared to €13 per tonne for carbon.
Cutting just two of the short-lived climate forcers—black carbon soot and ground-level ozone—can cut the rate of global warming in half and by two-thirds in the Arctic for the next 30 to 60 years, assuming we also make progress on CO2.—Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development
The EU Resolution follows the first-ever ministerial meeting on short-lived climate forcers held 12 September in Mexico City, hosted by Mexico and Sweden, along with the United States and the United Nations Environment Programme. A follow-up technical meeting will be hosted by Bangladesh in October, with further ministerial meetings likely in the future.