Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project

ArCS Blog

Report on the 2nd Meeting of the Arctic Council Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane

The Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane (EGBCM) held its second meeting in Helsinki, Finland on June 8-9, 2016. Karen Florini (United States) chaired the meeting. Participants included seven Arctic States (Canada, Finland, Iceland, Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the United States); one Permanent Participant organization (the Arctic Athabaskan Council); four Observer States (Germany, Italy, Japan, and Poland); the European Union; and two Arctic Council working groups (AMAP and ACAP). 

The Chair opened the meeting by highlighting relevant provisions of the Arctic Council's Framework for Enhanced Action on Black Carbon and Methane and the Group's Terms of Reference, including the need for ambitious action that can slow the pace of warming in the Arctic. She also put these provisions into the context of the Paris Agreement and its goal of keeping warming well below 2 degrees and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Several delegations stressed that many are looking to the EGBCM to serve as a model for action by the Arctic Council.

The intersessional work delivered a series of recommendations for action for each priority sector - mobile sources, heating stoves, solid waste, oil and gas methane leakage and flaring – and provided an overview of key policies/practices and lessons learned from implementation.  Experts convened to further refine and prioritize the recommendations, aiming to develop recommendations that are ambitious, specific, and actionable.

The Expert Group previously decided to prioritize its detailed recommendations to the above-listed sectors as major emissions sources that appear to be feasible to tackle in the near-term. However, the Group had also noted that several additional sectors will likely warrant attention by future Expert Groups, namely open burning and forest fires, enteric fermentation, and shipping because of their current and/or potential significance as emission sources. Upon further discussion during the June meeting, the Group concluded that shipping warrants inclusion in the Report in light of  significant increases in Arctic black carbon emissions from shipping projected for the near to medium term. The Expert Group similarly concluded that enteric fermentation warrants inclusion in its Report by calling for additional research on solutions, given that enteric fermentation is the largest anthropogenic source of methane emissions worldwide, and that methane is a well-mixed gas that affects the Arctic regardless of where it is emitted. While the Group acknowledged the significance of open burning, it concluded that it was not likely to be able to develop actionable recommendations during the current cycle of Expert Group work, and thus confirmed that this topic will be the subject of a sidebar box.

Yutaka Kondo, NIPR

(A member of the Atmospheric climate forcers in the Arctic)