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Central Asia advancing integrated climate and clean air planning ahead of COP29

Central Asia advancing integrated climate and clean air planning ahead of COP29

Astana skyline

Representatives from countries across Central Asia and experts on the climate and clean air came together in Astana, Kazakhstan this week (11-13 June 2024) for the Sub-Regional Workshop on Integrated Planning for Climate and Air organized by the UNEP-convened Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the UNECE Air Convention secretariat. The participants engaged in interactive conversations, exchanged best practices, and gained practical knowledge of integrated planning methodologies and approaches to tackle global warming and air pollution at the same time.  

The workshop had two specific focuses: an M-RAP workshop to support countries on national planning for rapid and targeted methane action, and a workshop dedicated to aligning air pollutant and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission inventory development.  

With the aim of promoting an integrated approach to inventory development, UNECE, with financial support from Luxembourg, facilitated a workshop that assisted participants to design integrated air pollutant and GHG emissions inventory systems in their respective countries. Given that data is largely the same for both types of inventories, it is more efficient and cost-effective to build a single coordinated system for estimating both GHG and air pollutant emissions. Compiling air pollutant and GHG inventories in tandem can help improve data quality and allows decision-makers to improve tracking of the impact of air pollution and GHG mitigation measures.  

Discussions focused on institutional arrangements, data flows and practical examples of how to build synergies between GHG inventories required under the UNFCC and air pollutant inventories in accordance with the requirements under the UNECE Air Convention. The workshop supported Parties with their reporting requirements under the UNECE Air Convention. In addition, and with a view to the upcoming inventory reporting in the framework of the Biennial Transparency Reports (BTRs) under the Paris agreement, the workshop provided recommendations for integrated national reporting that can provide information to policymakers about co-benefits and potential conflicts of air and climate measures.  

As part of the M-RAP workshop in Astana, through expert assistance, knowledge sharing, and direct peer-to-peer exchanges, the CCAC introduced new countries to its methodology for development and implementation of transparent and consistent national methane roadmaps ​or action plans. The workshop focused on providing countries with concrete and practical guidance for how to leverage the M-RAP methodology and tools and resources of the CCAC to enhance their NDCs.

The workshop also emphasized UNECE's best practices in monitoring, reporting, and mitigation of methane emissions from the fossil fuel-based energy sectors, showcasing how including methane reduction targets in NDCs can help achieve the Paris Agreement and Global Methane Pledge goals. UNECE supports countries by providing technical assistance, advising on legislation and regulations, and helping access financing for methane abatement projects. 

Representatives from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan presented their efforts and plans on national methane action.  

This latest M-RAP workshop builds on one organized by the CCAC on the margins of the Global Methane Forum in Geneva from March 21-22, which brought together nine countries to accelerate their ambition on methane abatement through supporting national planning. Such planning for methane abatement supports coordinated and accelerated progress on identification and development of relevant methane targeted measures and supporting policies, including in the context of NDCs revision. 

As hosts of the workshop, Kalkamanov Saken Amangeldievich, Advisor to Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources,  Managing Director at JSC 'Zhasyl Damu' underscored Kazakhstan's commitment to integrated climate and clean air planning: “International cooperation is key in the fight against climate change, and we were pleased to host this importance workshop to help to coordinate strong action on climate and clean air across Central Asia.”  

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kazakhstan, Michaela Friberg-Storey, said: “Collaborative efforts across the region are essential in tackling super pollutants and air pollution effectively, and protect our shared environment. Effective climate and clean air planning benefits everyone, enhancing public health and driving economic growth in the region.”   

Martina Otto, Head of UNEP-convened Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat said: “This year is critical in including methane reduction targets and measures more explicitly in NDC reviews, thereby unlocking finance. Our Methane Roadmap Action Programme and its associated workshops provide a unique opportunity for countries, including our partners in Central Asia, to inspire each other on how to include methane and other super pollutants in their upcoming NDC 3.0.”   

Albena Karadjova, Secretary to the UNECE Air Convention, added: “Aligning air pollutant and greenhouse gas emission inventories at the national level can be an important step in informing policymakers about synergies, co-benefits and potential trade-offs of climate and air measures. In the context of the UNECE Air Convention and the UNFCCC, informed decision-making can facilitate greater emission reductions, which is essential for sustainable development.” 

By taking action on super pollutants, we can reduce global warming and air pollution at the same time, and by further integrating these efforts, we can build a cleaner and more sustainable future for generations to come.  

Notes to editors 

About the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)  

The UNEP-Convened Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) is a partnership of over 179 governments, intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations. It works to reduce powerful but short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – methane, black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and tropospheric ozone – that drive both climate change and air pollution. It aims to connect ambitious agenda setting with targeted mitigation action within countries and sectors. Robust science and analysis underpin its efforts and bolstered by its Trust Fund, it has given rise to high level political commitment, in-country support, and a range of tools that help make the case for action and support implementation. The CCAC also provides secretariat support to the Global Methane Pledge, a global effort by 157 countries and the European Union to collectively reduce methane emission by 30% by 2030 as compared to 2020 levels. 

About the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (Air Convention)   

The UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution was adopted in 1979. Over the years, it has been extended by eight protocols that identify specific measures to be taken by Parties to cut their emissions of air pollutants. The Convention has 51 Parties, covering North America and almost the entire European continent. Parties are required to report air pollutant emission inventories to the Convention once a year. UNECE has, for a number of years, supported countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia in developing and improving their emission inventories. It has also developed an e-learning course on How to Report Emissions under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, available in English and Russian. The workshop sessions on aligning air pollutant and greenhouse gas emission inventory development (GHG) was financially supported by Luxembourg. 

The Convention’s Gothenburg Protocol is the first and to this day only legally-binding agreement containing obligations to reduce pollutants that also have an impact on the climate. This includes ground-level ozone precursors (nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds) and particulate matter. Black carbon as one of the components of particulate matter is specifically mentioned in the protocol. Both black carbon and ground-level ozone are short-lived climate pollutants, as they have high global warming potential. The protocol is thus an example of an integrated approach tackling both air pollution and climate change.