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If there was ever a doubt that we were in a climate emergency, recent climate impacts have eliminated remnant skeptics. California was on a center global stage showing just how severe escalating climate change can be, facing intense fires, heat domes and prolonged droughts followed by atmospheric rivers causing historic floods.
This spiraling out-of-control climate emergency requires a fast and aggressive response, but one that is strategically targeted to leverage the greatest response with the resources available and in ways that can help the most climate vulnerable communities.
We all know that the solution is to decarbonize our economies, reducing and eventually phasing out fossil fuels in our energy mix. This is indeed a long-term answer to climate change which we must pursue, but what we’ve also learned (and this is less understood by most) that removing CO2 from the atmosphere is not the only strategy we have available. In fact even if we were to decarbonize entirely overnight, persistent carbon concentrations in the atmosphere and the entrapment of heat in the oceans for equally long periods, means we wouldn’t see improvements to our climate for centuries! We need more!
In order to cool the planet quickly and aggressively in the near term by mid-century to avoid irreversible tipping points, we must reduce another set of pollutants, called Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (or SLCPs for short). SLCPs are gases that have enormous short-term global warming impact. These are methane, HFCs, black carbon, and ozone. Methane for example is 86 times more potent as a climate forcer than CO2!
CHRE has refocused much of its advocacy work to specifically target these super pollutants by engaging, working alongside, and further pressing global agencies like the UN’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition (the only global agency with a mandate to focus solely on SLCP reductions), the State of California (the only jurisdiction to date on the planet with an SLCP emissions reductions law) to tackle SLCPs. We are also collaborating with our key networks and partners such as the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD), the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and Earthworks to devise local actions to bring attention to and achieve SLCP reductions quickly and aggressively.