Climate Philanthropies Announce $450 Million to Deepen Investment in Super Climate Pollutants

December 2, 2023 12:00 AM EST

Commitment will complement crucial decarbonization efforts to help reduce near-term warming

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today at COP28, leading climate philanthropies announced an investment of $450 million in 2023 and over the next three years to help catalyze a faster phase-down of non-CO2 super climate pollutants. The new commitment designates the majority of the funding to methane abatement and the remaining funds will support the phase-out of fluorinated gases, nitrous oxide, black carbon and ground-level ozone. Super climate pollutants contribute to over half of global climate change1, and cutting these, when paired with necessary, ambitious decarbonization efforts, can help reduce near-term warming four times faster than focusing on decarbonization alone.

"With 2023 on track to become the warmest year to date, we are dangerously close to exceeding the 1.5°C goal set out during the Paris Agreement. We must deepen investments and rapidly increase focus on measures that can prevent warming in the short term," said Patricia Espinosa, CEO and Founding Partner of onepoint5. "This means ambitious transition plans towards fossil fuel phase-out. Every tenth of a degree of warming matters, and it matters most to vulnerable communities on the frontlines of climate change." 

While all super pollutants have a significant impact on warming, cutting methane emissions presents a critical opportunity to slow warming today — methane is responsible for more than 25% of global climate warming, second only to CO22. Methane must move beyond voluntary targets to mandatory measures at local, sub-national, national, and international levels, including through mandatory agreements that start with measures to reduce methane and other super pollutants in three critical sectors: oil and gas, agriculture and waste. These reductions will be critical to keep the 1.5°C goal within reach.

"Urgent action is needed from major polluters and wealthy nations to enforce the 1.5°C limit set by the Paris Agreement. The majority of Vulnerable Twenty Group (V20) nations are already experiencing average temperatures well above those conducive to economic growth, resulting in financial setbacks with 20% wealth destruction," said Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister for Finance Ghana and V20 Chair. "A rapid increase in investments and financial support for climate-vulnerable economies pursuing a Climate Prosperity plan is crucial for development-positive climate action and shared prosperity."

Many countries and companies have signed voluntary pledges of non-CO2 gases in recent years — which shows what is possible — but these commitments are generally not part of the Paris Agreement's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) process. To fully materialize these commitments, local, national, or international regulations or incentives must be in place.

The funding announced today will support diverse initiatives to accelerate the reduction of super pollutants, including by governments that have already announced plans to phase-down super pollutants, by helping with implementation. It will assist countries in expediting national actions and help catalyze ambitious economy-wide NDCs that incorporate all climate pollutants. It will also help leverage additional resources to triple climate finance on non-CO2 pollutants by the end of the decade.

"As we look forward to the COP in Brazil and the obligation of all countries to submit their updated NDCs, we must take all possible measures to accelerate our ambition to avoid catastrophic climate change," said Izabella Teixeira, co-chair of the UNEP International Resource Panel and former Environment Minister of Brazil. "Combining the resources of philanthropy, government and the private sector will continue to be critical — and this initiative, focused on the fast-acting super pollutants, can make a real contribution to our global effort."

Today's announcement is inspired by the historic successes of the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which is working effectively to phase-down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a super pollutant and key contributor to rising temperatures, along with nearly 100 other chemicals that were depleting the ozone layer and warming the planet. The Kigali Amendment was and remains a resounding success, including the role philanthropy played in supporting implementation of the agreement, and today's commitment seeks to have a similar impact on the remaining super pollutants.

"With time short, we must be smart and decisive about how we stay below a 1.5-degree warmer world. One smart way will be for all to commit to ending methane leakages now and to regulate, urgently, all other super pollutants," said Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.

Super pollutants typically remain in the atmosphere for a few days to several years, as opposed to the 300-1,000 years or more for CO2. Reducing super pollutant emissions is not only essential to keeping us on track to reach the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, but also to improving air quality around the world. Cutting super climate pollutants will also contribute to preventing 2.5 million deaths per year due to air pollution (60% of all air pollution annual mortality), bringing direct local benefits to communities3.

This philanthropic support is additional to crucial contributions needed to rapidly scale ambition and implementation on decarbonization. This involves scaling efforts to deliver a comprehensive energy package at COP28 that includes goals of doubling energy efficiency, tripling renewables, and a just and equitable phase-out of all fossil fuels.

"Delivering unprecedented levels of new finance is essential for scaling rapid progress on super pollutants, while realizing the needed energy transition," said Jess Ayers, CEO of Quadrature Climate Foundation. "It is critical that this financing supports those already grappling most with the devastating impacts of climate change and it must enable critical progress on adaptation and loss and damage."

"While philanthropy can play a catalytic role, there is an unprecedented amount of financing needed to support the energy transition," said Antha Williams, who leads Bloomberg Philanthropies' environment program. "This is the pivotal moment for governments, philanthropy, and the private sector to work together and deliver the data, action and investment to reach our goals."

COP28 will mark the conclusion of the Global Stocktake to assess progress under the Paris Agreement. The UNEP Gap Report calculates that the planet is on course to warm 2.5 to 2.9°C even assuming all NDCs are fully implemented. Now is the time for countries to act by setting clear, high-ambition pathways for how gaps exposed by the Stocktake will be closed ahead of the next round of NDC submissions by 2025.

"Governments have an opportunity here to strengthen their targets and goals to ensure they address the mitigation and funding levels climate science demands," said Christie Ulman, President of Sequoia Climate Foundation. "Including all greenhouse gases as part of the Paris NDCs would be a step in the right direction. Stronger targets combined with a renewed focus on implementation are critical — it's the only way we will see our climate goals realized."

"Besides being a pollutant that supercharges climate change, methane further exacerbates inequality caused by the climate crisis and disproportionately harms the most vulnerable among us," said John Palfrey, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. "Direct reductions in methane emissions are especially crucial for frontline communities that suffer the worst impacts of methane pollution and climate change."

"The climate emergency requires fast action at scale to decarbonise the energy system," said Kate Hampton, CEO of the Children's Climate Fund Foundation. "It also requires cutting super climate pollutants like methane as quickly as possible, something that will only happen through a combination of significant investment, technical assistance and robust regulation."

The following philanthropic organizations are part of today's announcement:

Ballmer Group

Bezos Earth Fund

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Children's Investment Fund Foundation

High Tide Foundation

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Larsen Lam Climate Change Foundation

Pisces Foundation

Quadrature Climate Foundation

Sequoia Climate Foundation

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

About Sequoia Climate Foundation
The Sequoia Climate Foundation is a philanthropic organization on a mission to avert the worst impacts of climate change. A 501(c)(3) based in California, we support ambitious, evidence-based strategies aimed at accelerating the clean energy transition.

About The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)
The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) is an independent philanthropic organisation, with offices in Addis Ababa, Beijing, London, Nairobi and New Delhi. Established in 2002, CIFF works with a wide range of partners seeking to transform the lives of children in developing countries. Areas of work include sexual and reproductive health and rights, maternal and child health, opportunities for girls and young women, tackling child slavery and exploitation, and supporting smart ways to slow down and stop climate change.

About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation invests in creative thinkers and problem-solvers working to ensure people, communities, and the planet can flourish. Together with its partners, Hewlett harnesses society's collective capacity to solve our toughest problems — from the existential threat of climate change, to persistent and pervasive inequities, to attacks on democracy itself.

About the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world's most pressing social challenges, including advancing global climate solutions, decreasing nuclear risk, promoting local justice reform in the U.S., and reducing corruption in Africa's most populous country, Nigeria. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program and the global 100&Change competition, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsive democracy as well as the vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago.


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