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TFBCM Co-Chairs discuss progress

At its final meeting, the Arctic Council’s Task Force for Action on Black Carbon and Methane worked towards finalizing its deliverables for the 2015 Ministerial meeting.

The Arctic Council’s Task Force for Action on Black Carbon and Methane (TFBCM), one of the four task forces established at the Kiruna Ministerial meeting in May 2013, held its 6th and final meeting in Tromsø (Norway) on November 17-18, 2014. Guided by its mandate set out at the Ministerial meeting in Kiruna in 2013, the TFBCM has been working on the development of an arrangement among the eight Arctic States to facilitate actions “to achieve enhanced black carbon and methane emission reductions in the Arctic”. At this meeting, the Arctic States reached agreement on their common vision for enhanced actions to address black carbon and methane in the Arctic as well as a mechanism for the implementation of the arrangement. After the meeting, the task force co-chairs, France Jacovella (Canada) and Jon Kahn (Sweden), shared their views on the result of the TFBCM’s work and its significance.

The TFBCM has come a long way since its first meeting more than a year ago. What is the outcome of its work?

FRANCE JACOVELLA: Members of the Task Force have worked collaboratively to develop a Framework for Enhanced Action to Reduce Black Carbon and Methane emissions, which will lead to benefits for both climate and human health in the Arctic. The Task Force also acknowledged that reducing anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions remains the most important challenge to address global and Arctic climate change, and are proud that this work will support and complement the goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

I am very pleased that we have developed a concrete and action-oriented deliverable with a focus on implementation. This is an important Canadian Chairmanship priority initiative and I look forward to its consideration by Arctic Council Ministers in 2015.

JON KAHN: The TFBCM has been very successful and this has to do with the commitment and ambition of all countries. Actions to reduce emissions of black carbon and methane are crucial for limiting warming and melting of the Arctic ice as well as for human health in the Arctic. Emission reductions will also contribute to global efforts. The aim of the framework document is to accelerate the decline in emissions by coordinated national actions and collective action. The states have agreed on their ambitions and on a timetable for inventories and for setting joint targets. This is a major achievement of the group.

What message does the TFBCM want to send with its work?

JON KAHN: The message of the group is clear. The emissions of black carbon and methane must be dealt with as a high priority, and the Arctic States will certainly do their part; Arctic Council Observer states and others are also urged to come along to get stronger effects. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world, and short-lived climate forcers such as black carbon and methane represent a major threat to sea ice. All sectors - not least transportation, and oil and gas - should contribute to these efforts. We must do more.

FRANCE JACOVELLA: The Arctic is warming considerably faster than other regions of the globe, leading to fundamental changes to the environment and human living conditions not only in the Arctic but also around the world. The Task Force’s outcome signals the commitment of the Arctic Council to lead in taking enhanced action to reduce emissions of black carbon and methane within its borders. At the same time, the Task Force signals that cooperation with partners outside of the Arctic region, including contributions by Arctic Council Observers, will be essential to tackle the issue effectively and reduce the impact on the Arctic and its peoples of black carbon and methane that is emitted beyond the borders of Arctic States.