WASHINGTON – The federal government is putting another $10 million into a global coalition to reduce short-lived climate pollutants — substances such as soot, methane and hydrofluorocarbons that emit greenhouse gases.
Environment Minister Peter Kent, in the U.S. capital after meeting with ministers from a group of like-minded major emitters, said Canada would also be putting $2.5 million towards a centre launched by the United Nations to help developing countries find the best technology to confront the challenges of climate change.
But the money for both contributions comes from an existing $1.2-billion pot that Canada had already earmarked for developing countries under the Copenhagen Accord to slow down climate change.
Canada has been under intense pressure to add to that $1.2 billion, since that money was meant as Canada’s contribution to the Fast-Start Financing fund for 2009 to 2012.
Instead, Kent has been announcing in bits and pieces how the $1.2 billion would be spent.
On Wednesday, his focus was on short-lived climate pollutants — pollutants that don’t stay in the air for long, unlike carbon dioxide, but that are a key driver of global warming nonetheless.
“As an Arctic nation, Canada understands the importance of addressing short-lived climate pollutants, which have an impact on the rate of Arctic ice melt,” Kent said in remarks at the Canadian embassy.
The $10 million for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition is the group’s biggest contribution to date, Kent said. It tops up Canada’s previous contributions of $3 million to the group’s trust fund.
The coalition backs plans to reduce pollutants from municipal solid waste, heavy duty vehicles and engines, oil and natural gas production and brick production.
Proponents say that effective reduction of short-lived climate pollutants could significantly slow global warming in sensitive regions such as the Arctic, where sea ice has been receding to record lows in the summer months.
“If we can effectively contain short-lived climate pollutants, we will be addressing at least one third — perhaps more, some scientists say — of the greenhouse gases which contribute to global warming,” Kent said in an interview.
At the same time, Kent said Canada and the other 16 countries in the Major Economies Forum are trying to hash out ways to finance developing countries’ climate change efforts over the long term.
“Clearly, focusing on scaling up private investment will be key,” he said.
In the interview, Kent added that international development banks have been effective in leveraging donors’ funding and working with the private sector to find climate-change solutions.
Environmentalists and anti-poverty groups have criticized Canada and other countries for allowing the developing-country fund to dwindle.
Rich countries had put forward enough money to get it started, but the funding only lasted until the end of 2012. They also committed to financing by 2020 a $100-billion-a-year fund for poor countries most affected by climate change.
Kent said Canada is not leaving those countries high and dry, since the previous funding is still at work and because Canada has other development assistance that is still in place. Rather, he said donor countries need to think hard about how they would raise such a large amount of money and then put it to good use.