Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with EPA’s Lisa Jackson and a handful of international diplomats, has had enough of climate inaction. She announced a new initiative Thursday morning to start attacking “short-lived climate pollutants” — otherwise known as “everything except carbon dioxide.” Recent research has shown that decreasing these pollutants, which include methane, soot, and HFCs, could actually pull back climate change by as much as 0.9 degrees F. That won’t solve the problem, but it could buy the world some time while diplomats continue squabbling over carbon.
There’s also a win-win-win angle to attacking pollutants like soot and methane. Some of the strategies that achieve that goal also have health and economic benefits. Cutting soot means replacing dirty cookstoves with cleaner ones, for instance. Improving wastewater treatment cuts methane and also improves water quality. Some of these strategies are also relatively inexpensive.
The coalition, as it exists now, is kinda small and has fairly mushy goals, which include getting more countries on board and helping create “national action plans” to implement some of the aforementioned strategies. There’s $15 million behind these efforts so far, most of it coming from the U.S. That’s pretty small potatoes, but the idea is smart and could make a difference. It makes sense to try.
- Global Climate Change and Clean Air Initiative, State Department
Get Grist in your inbox