|Air conditioners use some of the polluting gases|
By Robert Muthami and Isaiah Esipisu
African Civil Society Organisations (CSO) have called for a rapid phase down of the Short Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) as a way of slowing down the current rate of global warming.
Based on a 2011 study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) titled ‘Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone,’ reducing three of the SLCPs – black carbon, tropospheric ozone, and methane – has the potential to avoid up to 0.5°C global average warming by 2050 and 0.84°C in the Arctic by 2070.
And now, the African CSOs under the umbrella of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) in collaboration with Christian Aid are calling on all African governments and related players to become proactive in reducing some of the short-lived pollutants for the sake of the planet.
According to Benson Ireri, the Senior Policy Adviser at the Christian Aid, there are alternatives that can be used to reduce the use of some of the most lethal pollutants. “Hydrofluorocarbons, also known as super greenhouse gases used in refrigerating and air conditioning systems are some of the most lethal gases to the climate, and yet we use them on daily basis,” he said.
However, said Ireri, alternatives to the hydrofluorocarbons are available, and are already being explored in the developed world. However, it remains a mirage for the developing world.
According to Mithika Mwenda, the Secretary General – PACJA, there is need for capacity building all over Africa, technology transfer, and political goodwill in order for the continent to understand and contextualize discourses related to Montreal Protocol, and which has remained abstract to many players since 1989 when it was ratified.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances such as hydrofluorocarbons that are responsible for ozone depletion.
The agriculture industry has been cited as the main source of hydrofluorocarbon pollution, given refrigeration of the farm produce, sea produce among many others. With the climate change, many households have installed air conditioners in houses to cushion them from the scorching heat, and they use thm in vehicles all over.
However, according to Robert Chimambo of the Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN), Africa has become a dumping ground for some of the pollutants. “All the hydrofluorocarbons are manufactured from abroad, and then sold to Africa. It is sad because most of the countries who manufacture these substances only do it for the African market. At home, they use alternative technologies that are free of hydrofluorocarbons,” he told a Civil Society forum in Kigali, Rwanda.
So far, there are high expectations in the upcoming Vienna meeting of the Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Montreal Protocol-Conference of Parties in July and October, 2016 respectively in providing guidance in phasing down the Short Lived Climate Pollutants.
African Civil Society is expected to play a critical role the same way it has done in influencing the climate change negotiations under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, one of the key challenges is that most southern CSO have limited information about the Montreal Protocol processes due to its technical nature.
It is with the above rationale that PACJA in collaboration with Christian Aid and the Action for Environment and Sustainable Development (AESDN) have organized an African Civil Society Capacity Building workshop on the global phasedown of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) on 11th – 13th July 2016 on the sidelines of the 27th African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
Participants drawn from African CSO’s across African are engaging in the discussions, exploring the gains and challenges under the engagement in the UNFCCC and lessons that could inform the engagement in the Montreal Protocol. From the discussions, African CSO’s have underscored the need to engage and influence the protocol as it has huge potential in contributing to the climate change mitigation targets, hence contributing to progress made under the UNFCCC process.
The Global phase down of the SCLPs is in line with the UNFCCC-COP 21 commitments adopted in Paris and as part of the obligations under the Agreement, countries have now embarked in the implementation of their Nationally Determined Contributions.
“As of January 2015, 27 countries have specifically mentioned SLCPs, air pollution, or relevant mitigation co-benefits in their INDC submissions and the INDCs of Mexico, Chile, and Nigeriainclude separate specific sections on SLCPs and also specifically discuss black carbon mitigation”.
This therefore affirms that there is need for African CSO’s to influence the Montreal Protocol as it provides an opportunity for countries to realize their mitigation ambitions under the country specific nationally determined Contributions.
At the end of the three day’s workshop African CSO’s will release a statement targeting key decision makers aimed at influencing the Montreal Protocol Conference of Parties to be held in Kigali, Rwanda in October, 2016.