Wilson Center – Tackling Climate Super Pollutants in China
Climate super pollutants, like methane, nitrous oxide, and HFCs, heat the earth faster than carbon dioxide. At the COP 26 climate talks in Glasgow, climate envoy Xie Zhenhua announced that China’s 2060 carbon neutrality target also included reductions in these pollutants. Nitrous oxides, generated by industrial processes, agriculture, and wastewater management, are 300 times more potent than carbon. More stringent regulation of these pollutants could reduce the short-term climate warming trend by more than half over the next few decades.
As the world’s top two emitters of super pollutants, it was encouraging that the United States and China prioritized cooperation on short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) abatement in U.S.-China Glasgow Declaration. In the United States nitrous oxide emissions are 6% of total greenhouse gas emissions and in China, 9 to 20%. Reigning in nitrous oxides and other super pollutants also makes good business sense as the cost of abatement is often quite low and the climate benefit high.
Drawing on his recent reporting, Philip McKenna (Inside Climate News) will share the mystery of the major drop and rebound of nitrous oxide emissions at adipic acid chemical plants in China. Kate Logan (Asia Society Policy Institute) will explore the relevance of super climate pollutants in rebuilding U.S.-China climate cooperation and how their growing importance is shaping the the multilateral climate process. Momentum is increasing for COP28 in the UAE to feature a major focus on SLCPs. Drawing on extensive study by LBNL China Energy Team, Jiang Lin (UC Berkeley) will discuss the broad policy challenges and promising opportunities for China to regulate and abate climate super pollutants.
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