Nordic nations sign non-CO2 emissions pact

By RTCC Staff

Nordic environment ministers have signed a declaration to increase efforts on reducing non-CO2 emissions.

Following a meeting in Svalbard, ministers from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Ärland and the Faroe Islands signed the declaration.

Non-CO2 emissions – Short-Lived Climate Forcers (SLCFs) – such as black carbon (soot) and methane, are those gases with a short life span within the atmosphere but a heavy impact on climate

Since 1970, the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean has decreased by about 30%, according to the ministers, around 30-40% of which is directly due to SLCFs.

As much as 30-40% of the Arctic Ocean sea ice reduction could be down to SLCFs (© Polar Cruises/Creative Commons)

“Initiatives are needed that address these emissions under the auspices of the various international environment agreements,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

“But it will take time before those agreements make sufficient impact, so there is an urgent need for independent initiatives that lead to rapid reductions in emissions of short-lived climate forcers.

“These initiatives need to be taken in both the industrialised and developing countries.”

According to the UN, an effective reduction in these emissions could halve the projected rise for the Arctic by 2040 and reduce warming globally by 0.5°C.

Speaking at the Planet under Pressure conference this week in London, climate modeller, Peter Cox from the University of Exeter said that by addressing methane emissions, the world could buy itself 15 years of breathing space for fighting climate change.

What does the declaration mean?

While the ministers say CO2 will continue to be the main focus of fighting climate change, they stress that reductions in SLCFs could slow warming and improve health.

The agreement set out plans for the countries to develop national measures to reduce emissions from transport and from inefficient use of wood heating.

It also included action to be taken at a number of international forums, including the Arctic Council and the UN and said better use should be made of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Nordic Environment Finance Corporation.

Earlier in the year Sweden joined a number of other countries in establishing a “Climate and clean air coalition to reduce short lived climate pollutants”. Headed up by the US, the project aims to help developing countries address their short-lived emission sources.

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