Arctic Council action for reducing black carbon and methane emissions

Official title: Arctic Council Framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions

Subject category:
Climate Change
Type of agreement / instrument:
Multilateral
Form:
Cooperative Framework
Status:

On April 24, 2015, Arctic Council Ministers welcomed the Framework and agreed to its implementation, establishing the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane to carry out this work.

On May 11, 2017, Arctic Council Ministers adopted the first Pan-Arctic report on collective progress to reduce black carbon and methane emissions by Arctic States and its recommendations, including an aspirational collective goal on black carbon.

Lead & partner departments:
Lead:
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Partners:
Global Affairs Canada
For further information:
Web links:
Contacts:
ECCC Inquiry Centre
Compendium edition:
October 2018
Reference #:
A60/EN

Plain language summary

The Arctic Council Framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions unites the Arctic States, as well as interested non-Arctic States, in the common goal to mitigate climate change and improve air quality via reductions of two short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs).

The Framework was developed and adopted during the last Canadian Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2013 to 2015), and the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane (EGBCM) was established at the Iqaluit Ministerial in support of its implementation. Canada continues to engage actively in the EGBCM, which adopted in 2017 the first pan-Arctic collective, aspirational goal to reduce emissions of black carbon by 25 to 33% below 2013 levels by 2025.

Objective

The Arctic Council Framework for Action on Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions (Framework) is a non-legally binding agreement that lays out a common vision for Arctic States with enhanced, ambitious, national and collective action to accelerate the decline in overall black carbon emissions and to significantly reduce overall methane emissions.

Key elements

The Framework contains the following elements:

A common vision: This is an aspirational, qualitative and collective target for emissions reductions of black carbon and methane, and contains a commitment to develop a quantitative target in two years.

National Action: This includes strengthening national actions, developing and improving emissions inventories and emissions projections for black carbon and methane, and the submissions of national reports to the Arctic Council Secretariat.

Collective Action: The Framework calls for assessing progress on a two-year basis, to inform and engage policy makers. Enhancing collective action also includes improving understanding of black carbon and methane through continued and expanded monitoring, research and scientific efforts, including traditional knowledge, as well as increasing awareness, and carrying out project-based work.

Action by others: The Framework encourages Arctic Council Observer States and organizations to participate in the implementation of the Framework, and includes working with the private sector and other stakeholders, as well as within relevant international fora and agreements.

Expected results

The EGBCM has been established to review, analyze and assess progress towards the common vision of the Framework, and report to Ministers on progress and recommendations for further action.

In May 2017, Arctic States adopted the collective, aspirational goal to reduce black carbon emissions by at least 25 to 33% below 2013 levels by 2025.

Canada’s involvement

Under Canada’s chair from 2013 to 2015, the Arctic Council developed this Framework and now actively participates in the EGBCM that supports its implementation. The Framework is important because as an Arctic State, Canada’s Arctic environment, and the health and traditional ways of life of Arctic residents are disproportionately affected by short-lived climate pollutants, black carbon in particular due to its additional warming effect when deposited onto snow or ice.

Canada actively participates in the work of the EGBCM; beginning in 2015, Canada has produced a national report on black carbon and methane biennially, and has also contributed to the development of the EGBCM's Summary of Progress and Recommendations in alternating years. As part of this work, Canada engaged in discussions within the group on the development of a first ambitious, aspirational and quantitative collective goal on black carbon for Arctic states.

This Framework complements Canada’s commitments and activities to combat climate change and air pollution. 

Results / progress

Activities

Canada currently reports its greenhouse gas emissions including methane to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change and reports its black carbon emissions to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

As called for in the Framework, Canada provided a summary of these emissions to the Arctic Council Secretariat biennially, beginning in 2015. Canada will continue to submit national inventories in addition to contributing to other reporting activities, including future progress reports, and to the development of recommendations to Arctic Ministers.

Canada supports recommendations put forward by the EGBCM in the Summary of Progress and Recommendations, and is implementing a number of these recommendations domestically.

Reports

Canada submitted its first National Black Carbon and Methane Report, 2015 to the Arctic Council Secretariat as required under the Framework, and continues to submit national reports biennially.

The first EGBCM Summary of Progress and Recommendations was adopted by the Arctic Council Ministers in 2017. A second edition of this report, which assesses progress toward the vision of the Framework and towards the collective aspirational goal on black carbon, will be presented to the Arctic Council Ministers in May 2019. 

Results

Canada’s engagement on SLCPs under the Arctic Council’s Framework on Black Carbon and Methane provides an opportunity to influence activities on reducing SLCPs and re-invigorate or leverage partnerships with non-Arctic States participating in the group towards broader climate and clean air-related goals.

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