Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP)
Besides the UN climate negotiations, international cooperation is promoted to reduce the short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) emissions, including black carbon (soot), methane and other particles, and gases. Their lifespan in the atmosphere is short, but as compounds they cause significant global warming, particularly in the Arctic regions.
The sources of methane emissions include waste management, livestock and the production of fossil fuels. Black carbon is created from incomplete combustion processes, including power and industrial plants using outdated technology, small-scale wood burning, diesel-powered vehicles, methane flaring, combustion of organic waste, and prescribed burning of agricultural land.
The international Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) was set up in 2012 to combat SLCPs. Finland joined the coalition in June 2012. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) serves as the coalition's Secretariat. CCAC’s task is to enhance knowledge and understanding on black carbon and other short-lived climate pollutants, for example, by funding emission reduction actions concerning agriculture, tile manufacturing, heating and stoves, diesel, oil, gas, hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) and waste.
Black carbon warms the climate especially in the Arctic region. In this warming process emissions created in the Arctic region itself or adjacent areas have proportionally the greatest impact. Emissions transported to the Arctic from further away may also be significant as their volumes may be considerable relative to the emissions created in the Arctic.
It is particularly important to reduce black carbon emissions in winter because black carbon landing on the snow and ice darkens these surfaces which usually reflect solar radiation, thus reducing the reflection and accelerating the melting processes.
In the framework document concerning black carbon and methane adopted at the Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in 2015 the member countries commit to prepare the objectives for reducing black carbon and reporting on the emissions, forecasted trends in these and reduction actions. Observes are also encouraged to take part in this work. The EGBCM expert group monitors the implementation of the objectives of the framework document.
Finland’s national report on black carbon and methane was completed in June 2016.
Research on black carbon is also done under the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, including the assessment of the impacts of SLCP emissions and opportunities of emission reduction with regard to climate change mitigation.
The Paris Climate Change Agreement is taken into account in the third Commission Communication concerning the European Union policy for the Arctic, and the EU supports the reduction of black carbon and methane emissions.
Restricting short-lived climate pollutants has also been frequently on the agenda of the meetings of the Nordic environment ministers. The environment ministers of Finland, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Åland Islands have made international, regional and national initiatives to reduce short-lived climate pollutants in their territories.