Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

Fast Action to Reduce the Risks of Climate Change: U.S. Options to Limit Short-Lived Climate Pollutants


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Short-lived climate pollutants such as soot, methane and hydroflurorocarbons (HFCs) account for 30 to 40 percent of global warming to date. Targeted efforts to reduce these emissions can slow the pace of global warming and moderate climate impacts already underway, including the melting of sea ice and glaciers. By reducing local air pollution, such measures would also produce substantial public health benefits and reduce crop losses, particularly in developing countries. The factsheet outlines ways to further reduce U.S. emissions of these short-lived pollutants.

Through a broad range of efforts – including voluntary programs to reduce methane emissions, regulation of diesel emissions, and the development of alternatives to HFCs – the United States has made substantial progress in reducing short-lived climate pollutants, also called short-lived climate forcers. Options to strengthen these domestic efforts including the following: 

Federal leadership in reducing short-lived climate pollutants

A 2009 Executive Order, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance (E.O. 13514), directs agencies across the federal government to compile inventories of their greenhouse gas emissions, and to set targets and develop plans for reducing those emissions through 2020. HFCs and methane (but not black carbon) are explicitly included among the greenhouse gases covered under E.O. 13514. The Administration could instruct the Federal Environmental Executive charged with implementing the Executive Order to provide guidance directing all agencies to place a priority on identifying actions aimed at reducing emissions of all short-lived climate pollutants.  For example, agencies could be encouraged to purchase products made without HFCs, to retrofit their dirtiest diesel engines, and to take actions to facilitate capture of methane emissions from existing gas and oil wells and coal mines on federal lands.

An inter-agency Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Task Force could develop tools to help agencies develop and implement plans to reduce these compounds. 

Click here to read the full brief on short-lived climate pollutants.


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