Bangkok, 4th February 2013 - Government representatives from 19 Asian countries begin meetings here today, hosted by senior environmental officials from Bangladesh and Japan, to look at ways to catalyse fast action to reduce the impacts of short-lived climate pollutants - so-called SLCPs - in the Asia Pacific region.
SLCPs, such as black carbon or soot, methane, tropospheric ozone and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), are responsible for a substantial fraction of both the warming experienced to date and the current rate of global warming and can be dangerous air pollutants, with various detrimental impacts on human health, agriculture and ecosystems.
Governments and officials discussed existing measures that can be quickly taken up and integrated into strategies for economic development and environment protection. This is the first time that the SLCP challenge collectively has been discussed at an Asia wide meeting.
A UNEP study in 2011 found that aggressive action to reduce SLCPs by 2030 could avoid over 2 million premature deaths and annual crop losses of over 30 million tonnes each year, as well as to halve the pace of global warming by 2050 and deliver significant regional climate benefits. Cost-effective technologies to deliver the necessary emission reductions are already available internationally.
The study shows that Asia is one of the regions that could most benefit from SLCP mitigation. About 1.9 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution could be prevented each year by 2030 by implementing black carbon measures addressing the transport and residential sector and open agricultural biomass burning. Reducing methane emissions from coalmines could bring significant crop benefits. In addition, reducing levels of black carbon and other particles in the atmosphere could slow the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas and reduce disruption of the South Asian monsoon.
The SLCP meeting was hosted by Bangladesh, Japan and UNEP under the auspices of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), a voluntary global effort bringing together 28 partner countries and many intergovernmental organizations, representatives of the civil society and the private sector that is spearheading global efforts on SLCPs.
Bangladesh Minister of Environment and Forests, Hon. Dr Hasan Mahmud and the Japanese Vice-Minister for Global Environmental Affairs, Hon. Dr Ryutaro Yatsu convened the meeting and were joined by Dr. Keshab Man Shakya, Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Nepal and Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa, Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy, Republic of Maldives.
During the meeting Bangladesh's Minister for the Environment and Forests, Hon. Dr Hasan Mahmud said:"Bangladesh has been working for the last few years towards modernisation of brick kilns, improvement of millions of cook-stoves, improvement of rice parboiling systems, setting up of air quality monitoring mechanisms and adoption of relevant enabling environmental documents. Bangladesh, as a Founding Member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), has taken the initiatives of the CCAC seriously and wants to work with partners in the reduction of SLCPs to complement action on global warming."
The Japanese Vice-Minister for Global Environmental Affairs, Hon. Dr Ryutaro Yatsu added that: 'Japan is engaged to support CCAC and will contribute to the actions focused on SLCPs, cooperating closely with partner countries and organizations, with our knowledge and experiences both in policy making and research. We are pleased to support the expansion of the Coalition to Asia and the Pacific because it is really meaningful in light of the promotion of sustainable development in the region.'
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Program declared: "We look forward to welcoming all countries in Asia and the Pacific into the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to scale up the work and join forces with the other Partners in this effort to address the challenge of short-lived climate pollutants and deliver rapid and multiple public health, food and energy security, as well as near term climate benefits."
The meeting was held back to back with the Fourth Governmental Meeting on Urban Air Quality in Asia. Urban Air Quality in Asia meetings are held every two years and organized by Clean Air Asia and UNEP to inform governments on developments of urban air quality management internationally and in the region and to harmonize approaches between Asian countries in tackling urban air pollution, including that caused by some SLCPs, and related areas such as climate change.