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Addressing Black Carbon & Methane in the Arctic

13 January 2014
In the Arctic Council’s Kiruna Declaration, signed in May 2013, Ministers from the eight Arctic Council states recognized that “reduction of short-lived climate forcers [SLCFs] could slow Arctic and global climate change, and have positive effects on health.” The Arctic Council’s Task Force on Black Carbon & Methane met on 12-13 December in Stockholm to advance work in this area.

At the Kiruna Ministerial meeting, Arctic Council Ministers established a new task force charged with developing arrangements on actions to achieve enhanced black carbon and methane emission reductions in the Arctic. This Task Force for Action on Black Carbon and Methane (TFBCM) is building on the work of the previous Task Force on Short-Lived Climate Forcers (2009-2013), and draws as well on scientific work of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme Working Group (AMAP) and other international bodies.

The TFBCM, which is co-chaired by Sweden and Canada, held its second meeting in Stockholm on 12-13 December. The members of the Task Force have committed to an ambitious work plan. The Task Force is scheduled to complete its mandate in 2015 and report to Arctic Council Ministers on its work. Assembled at the meeting were representatives of seven of the eight Arctic states, five of the six Permanent Participant organizations, two of the Working Groups and eight Observers.

The meeting began with presentations of the intersessional work conducted since the first meeting. It was then followed by presentations from invited experts on relevant short-lived climate pollutants work going on elsewhere, and a discussion on the co-chairs’ framework document, which is expected to guide the development of the TFBCM’s culminating arrangement. Experts who shared their work on SLCPs included representatives from the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and the International Maritime Organization.

"This Task Force is committed to working with key partners in other organizations to maximize the value of its work, and thus the potential benefits for both the climate and health of individuals living in the Arctic" said France Jacovella of Canada. Co-chair Annika Markovic of Sweden added: “It has been clear from the very beginning that the work in this Task Force will build on what has already been done in previous task forces of the Arctic Council and that we do not want to duplicate work elsewhere. Therefore it was important for the Task Force to hear presentations from these organisations, and we have also prepared a living document listing work on SLCPs ongoing outside of the Task Force.”

Observer states were also invited to make brief statements about the value of their own engagement in the Task Force’s work.

Further intersessional work will take place ahead of the next meeting to advance consideration of various issues contained in the Terms of the Reference for the TFBCM including benchmarks/ targets/indicators of progress for emissions reductions; reporting on emission inventories of black carbon; sharing best practices and raising awareness.

The meeting also included a beautiful candle-lit procession and choral presentation in observance of St. Lucia’s Day, a traditional holiday celebrated in Sweden on 13 December.