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U.S. Will Lead New Effort to Cut Global Warming from Methane, Soot
by Brian Vastag (The Washington Post) With global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions stalled, the United States and five other countries are starting a new program to cut other pollutants — including methane, soot and hydrofluorocarbons — that contribute to global warming.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is set to announce the five-year initiative Thursday morning. Canada, Sweden, Mexico, Ghana and Bangladesh are also participating. The plan will be administered by the United Nations Environment Program, with a $12 million contribution from the United States for the first two years. Canada will add $3 million; contributions from the other countries are not known.
Carbon dioxide — from burning fossil fuels — plays the largest role in pushing up global temperatures, climate scientists say. But methane, soot and hydrofluorocarbons also contribute to global warming. Combined, those three pollutants are believed to account for 30 to 40 percent of the nearly one degree Celsius rise in global temperatures since the beginning of the 20th century.
If adopted globally, measures to reduce soot and methane emissions could slow global warming by about a half a degree Celsius by 2030, according to research published in January.
They can have a quick effect on global warming because these gases do not last in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide does.
...The new program, called the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, will not set targets for reductions in pollutants. Rather, it will fund education projects and joint public-private efforts to reduce emissions, said three people briefed on the announcement. They said the new program is likely to encourage nations to reduce diesel exhaust, stem the burning of agricultural waste, and capture methane from landfills, coal mines and natural gas wells, among other policies. READ MORE
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From BBC: Precisely how it's going to work is unclear.
But based on existing experiences around the world and on the priorities of some of the nations involved, measures are likely to include changing farming methods to reduce methane emissions from rice paddy, investing in efficient and clean cooking stoves for Africa and South Asia, and upgrading landfill sites and wastewater treatment facilities to capture methane.
...On a pragmatic basis, some of the measures on black carbon and methane are doable, affordable and bring real health and development benefits as well, particularly on clean cooking stoves.
But emphasising short-term warmers in the absence of meaningful action on CO2, to some observers, smacks of short-term politics and an unwillingness to get to grips with the main issue. READ MORE