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Arctic Council seeks to understand and reduce SLCFs such as methane

A recent paper in the journal Nature on the potential costs to the global economy of methane release in the Arctic garnered many headlines and ignited significant debate on this important environmental issue. Short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon, ozone, and methane contribute to global warming.

At the Kiruna Ministerial in May 2013, Arctic Ministers approved the Council’s second report on short-lived climate pollutants, which identified the substantial health benefits for Northerners and climate benefits that can be achieved by reducing these pollutants.

Over the next two years, work will be completed at the Arctic Council by two Working Groups and a Task Force to better understand the effects of these pollutants, and on actions to address them.

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) has established two expert groups to assess the scientific information regarding short-lived climate pollutants and their effects in the Arctic, one focusing on black carbon and ozone and the other on methane. These Expert Groups will provide a sound scientific basis to underpin recommendations of the Arctic Task Force for Action on Black Carbon and Methane.

The Methane Expert Group is evaluating the impact of methane emissions (both globally and from Arctic nations) on global and Arctic climate, and the contribution of Arctic natural systems to the global methane budget. In an AMAP Technical Report (due in the spring of 2015), which will be subject to peer review, the group expects to address key questions about the sources and transportation of methane emissions, how they could interact with permafrost carbon, and the effects that reductions by Arctic states could have on global emissions.

This report, together with the report developed by the AMAP Expert Group on Black Carbon and Ozone, will inform reporting on short-lived climate pollutants to Arctic Council Ministers in spring 2015.

The Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) has several projects underway on short-lived climate pollutants, aiming to achieve reduction from diesel emissions, wood stoves, wildfires, agricultural burning, industry, heating and power sectors, and to build on current work by Arctic partners. A report to ministers is anticipated in 2015.

Finally, Arctic Council Ministers directed that a special Task Force for Action on Black Carbon and Methane (TFBCM) be established to develop arrangements on action to achieve enhanced reduction of black carbon and, in some cases, methane emissions in the Arctic.

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