Guanajuato, Mexico, 4 September 2012 - Modernizing brick production in developing countries to improve public health and dramatically reduce climate and air pollution is the focus of an ambitious global initiative launched today in Mexico.
Traditional brick production has been identified by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) as an important area where substantial emissions reductions can be achieved for black carbon (soot), toxics and other pollutants.
Recent studies show that implementing more efficient technologies, mainly during the firing of bricks, can result in reductions in pollutant emissions of 10 to 50 per cent, depending on the process, scale and fuel used.
Backed by 27 government, international and non-government partners, the CCAC will build on existing knowledge and proven technologies and policies to accelerate reductions in the harmful climate, air pollution, economic and social impacts from inefficient brick-making.
Regional and global climate benefits are expected, as well as improved air quality in areas where brick production takes place, leading to less personal exposure to harmful pollutants for producers, their families and nearby communities.
Economic benefits for communities, including poverty reduction, are further potential gains in areas where more sustainable brick production is introduced and the quality of the bricks and overall market conditions are improved.
The initiative is led by Mexico's National Institute of Ecology alongside CCAC partners the Institute of Governance and Sustainable Development, Climateworks Foundation, the Clean Air Task Force and the Stockholm Environment Institute.
CCAC partner countries Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana and Mexico are involved, along with other developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with financial support to launch the initiative provided by the Government of Canada.
Phase One begins today with a three-day capacity building workshop in the City of Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico, which will examine public policies to reduce the environmental impacts of artisanal brick production.
The workshop is seen as a first step in the CCAC's effort to put the issue of emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) from inefficient brick production squarely on national governments' agendas to catalyze political engagement and action.
It will cover issues and solutions related to artisanal brick production in Latin America, Asia and Africa, including policies addressing the competitiveness, modernization and inclusiveness of the brick-making and construction sectors.
Synergies with ongoing efforts, for example in León and other municipalities in the State of Guanajuato, the City of Cuzco, Nemocón, Colombia, Bangladesh, India and others, will be sought through discussions and the exchange of experiences during the workshop.
For example, cleaner brick-making alternatives exist, including mechanized technologies, and the workshop participants will share their knowledge on the mitigation potential, ease of implementation, energy efficiency and cost of different options, and dispel some of the myths related to brick-making technology.
Elements of the CCAC brick production initiative include:
- Brick Kilns Task Force - a group of experts is being convened to guide the initiative;
- Awareness raising kit - Outreach materials, including a video, will be widely disseminated in the countries covered by phase one as a resource for policy makers, brick kiln owners, the construction sector, potential donors and the media;
- A report focusing on SLCP mitigation and brick production - It will cover all regions, but have a specific focus on Latin America, and will also be used to inform the CCAC's initiative for Supporting National Action Planning;
- Online clearing house - To be accessible via the CCAC website at www.unep.org/ccac, this resource will offer information about available technologies and their performance for SLCP and greenhouse gas mitigation, as well as a database of experts, researchers, institutions and technology suppliers.
The types and quantities of kilns and the fuels used vary within regions and even within countries. For instance, there are approximately 100,000 large operating units in India and around 20,000 artisanal brick kilns in Mexico, while most of the 6,000 units in Bangladesh are circa 1900s large-scale kilns with fixed chimneys.
In the initiative's pilot phase to be completed by the end of 2013, the characteristics of current brick production will be determined for each region, covering the technology, fuels, practices and socio-economic conditions, among other factors.
A second capacity-building workshop will take place in another region in early 2013. Project demonstration outlines will also be developed for implementation in a subsequent phase.
Further information about the Mexico workshop is available in English and Spanish:
The CCAC is a voluntary partnership uniting governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society in the first global effort to treat these pollutants as an urgent and collective challenge.
For more information about its Mitigating Black Carbon and Other Pollutants from Brick Production initiative, please visit: www.unep.org/ccac.
Notes to Editors
As urbanization in developing countries has grown in recent years, modernization has not necessarily reached the brick-making sector. The manufacture of bricks in developing countries is often linked with significant emissions of SLCPs (mainly black carbon).
What are short-lived climate pollutants?
Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) are substances with relatively short life spans in the atmosphere and a warming influence on climate. The main SLCPs - black carbon (or soot), methane and tropospheric ozone - are the most significant human-induced contributors to climate change after carbon dioxide (CO2). They are also air pollutants with serious impacts on health, agriculture and ecosystems.
Many hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are potent greenhouse gases and are also classified as SLCPs. If left unchecked, HFCs could account for nearly 20 per cent of climate pollution by 2050.