Carleton University Partners with UN Climate and Clean Air Coalition

Carleton Becomes First Canadian University to Join

Carleton University has been made a partner of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), the first Canadian university and among the first universities worldwide to join.

The CCAC is an international voluntary initiative aimed at advancing efforts to reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) in ways that protect the environment and public health, promote food and energy security and address near-term climate change. SLCPs are substances such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which have a relatively short lifespan in the atmosphere compared with carbon dioxide (CO2) and other longer-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs).

“Climate research, which is critical to the continued prosperity of Canada and the world, is an area of strength at Carleton University,” said Kim Matheson, vice-president (Research and International.) “The Carleton community is proud to be a part of this worldwide effort to maintain clean air for future generations.”

Carleton’s partnership with the CCAC was spearheaded by Matthew Johnson, Canada Research Chair in Energy and Combustion Generated Pollutant Emissions in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Carleton. Johnson conducts up-to-the-moment research on the impact of SLCPs around the world. In June 2014, he will travel to Ecuador to carry out field measurements of black carbon, a project sponsored by the World Bank.

“The mitigation of SLCPs could slow down the effects of climate change while also bringing about positive changes in air quality and health,” said Johnson. “Carleton University is eager to be part of this worldwide effort.”

Although lifespans of SLCPs are short relative to CO2, they are potent global warmers. The good news is that atmospheric levels of short-lived substances respond relatively quickly to changes in emissions.

It is estimated that SLCPs will contribute about half of the climate warming effect from current emissions over the next couple of decades if they aren’t reduced. Interest in mitigating SLCPs is partly driven by concern for the rapid rate of Arctic warming. Polar regions such as the Arctic are especially sensitive to the effects of black carbon as there is an additional warming effect from deposition of black carbon onto snow and ice.

In addition to their contribution to near-term climate change, ozone and black carbon are air pollutants and key components of smog, which causes respiratory and heart diseases. Ozone also contributes to agricultural crop damage. As a result, reducing emissions of SLCPs has the potential to bring provide near-term climate benefits and important positive co-benefits for air quality, agricultural productivity and human health.

The university will join the CCAC as non-state member/actor, a category that allows organisations to follow the work of the coalition while focusing efforts on scaling up activities in one thematic area at a regional scale. While the coalition is voluntary, actors are expected to fully engage and actively participate in the work of the initiative.

“We look forward to Carleton University’s support for this initiative to reduce methane and black carbon emissions from venting, leakage, and flaring of natural gas,” said Helena Molin Valdes, head of the secretariat at the CCAC.

The coalition has identified five areas for immediate action:

  • Accelerating methane and black carbon reductions from oil and gas production.
  • Reducing black carbon emissions from heavy duty diesel vehicles and engines;
  • Mitigating SLCPs and other pollutants from brick production;
  • Mitigating SLCPs from the waste management sector;
  • Alternative technology and standards promotion for HFCs;

About Climate Research at Carleton:
Researchers at Carleton are doing work that will help tackle the many challenges posed by our changing environment. Among Carleton’s research units and labs devoted to this work are the Energy and Emissions Research Lab, the Carleton Research Unit on Innovation, Science & Environment (CRUISE) and the Carleton Sustainable Energy Research Centre (CSERC). The university offers students a choice of academic programs and research opportunities to prepare for their role as the next generation of climate professionals and leaders in disciplines as diverse as geography and environmental studies, environmental and aerospace engineering, environmental science and public affairs.

About the Climate and Clean Air Coalition:
Launched in February 2012, by Canada, Bangladesh, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, the United States, and the United Nations Environment Programme, it is a new international voluntary initiative aimed at advancing efforts to reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants in ways that protect the environment and public health, promote food and energy security, and address near-term climate change. The G8 countries endorsed the Coalition and agreed to join its efforts at the May 2012 Camp David Summit. For more information, visit unep.org/ccac.

For more information:
Chris Cline
Media Relations
Carleton University
613-520-2600, ext. 1391
christopher_cline@carleton.ca