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Our Work

Super Pollutants

The impacts of climate change are already here and accelerating. If we don’t slow warming soon, we may reach irreversible ecological tipping points.

Immediate reductions to the emission of super pollutants are “first aid” that can help us avoid near-term and irreversible impacts and reduce the rate of warming. Alongside significant, sustained reductions in carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, reducing super pollutants is a key part of the foundation for any successful climate strategy.

Flare emission

The latest in super pollutants

Our Goal

Catalyze deep, global reductions in methane and black carbon emissions to help stave off the risk of irreversible changes to our climate

CATF advocates for super pollutant emissions reductions around the world by supporting scientific research, promoting policy initiatives, encouraging the development of financial incentives for pollution controls, and championing and defending standards that can dramatically reduce emissions.

Our impact in super pollutants

Our Efforts

CATF’s super pollutant initiatives are aimed at reducing pollutants that will have the greatest impact on warming the planet over the near term and offer the most promising targets for immediate cleanup. Taken together, efforts to reduce super pollutants globally could prevent more than half a degree Celsius of warming along with numerous other public health and ecological benefits. CATF’s efforts target two of the most concerning short-lived climate pollutants: methane and black carbon. Because these pollutants have a much shorter atmospheric lifespan than CO₂, significant cuts in their emissions will yield much faster reductions in planetary warming, as compared to reductions in CO₂.

CATF is actively advocating for super pollutant emissions reductions in international and domestic venues, supporting scientific research, promoting policy initiatives, encouraging the development of financial incentives for pollution controls where appropriate, and championing and defending standards that can dramatically reduce emissions of these significant climate pollutants. CATF’s three primary strategies include:

  • Strengthening ongoing policy advocacy to reduce methane and black carbon at the regional, national, and subnational levels;
  • Developing cross-cutting capacity to accelerate multinational action, including funding mechanisms to help developing countries achieve their emissions reduction goals and research capacity to identify promising solutions for large, neglected emissions sources;
  • Supporting high-level political commitments to create the needed momentum to spur emissions reductions at scale.

Reducing methane and black carbon emissions from the fossil fuel sector offers one of the most promising targets for immediate cleanup through low-cost solutions and readily implementable policy changes. Immediate reductions in these super pollutants across sectors, including fossil fuels, agriculture and waste, are “first aid” for the planet that can help us avoid near-term and irreversible impacts and reduce the rate of warming.

En Español: Iniciativas de CATF en materia de Contaminantes Climáticos de Vida Corta

Scope of Work

  • Research & Analysis: CATF investigates and reports on the negative health and environmental impacts of super pollutants. CATF also evaluates available emission control technologies and techniques to formulate best practices for controlling emissions and create tools for regulators.
  • Policy Advocacy: CATF works to develop and implement policy and regulatory solutions for cutting super pollutant emissions that can be applied both in the U.S. as well as internationally. CATF works across sectors, including the oil and gas sector as there is potential for significant reductions in emissions by implementing policies that are based on common sense practices and low cost emission control measures.
  • Education & Outreach: CATF plays a lead role in several coalitions focused on super pollutant emission cuts, engaging in public education and stakeholder outreach. CATF leads workshops and events to educate other NGOs, governing bodies, industry leaders, and other key allies around the world on the impacts of super pollutants and the best policies and practices for reducing emissions.
  • Litigation: CATF attorneys represent other NGO client organizations in judicial proceedings and CATF provides expert legal and technical input to the U.S. EPA, Bureau of Land Management, and other regulatory bodies on their super pollutant policies.

Achievements

  • Moved black carbon and methane into mainstream of global environmental campaigning.
  • Helped enact first-ever emission standards on ocean-going ships at the International Maritime Organization.
  • Spurred creation of the global Climate & Clean Air Coalition to drive national action and provide technical assistance for key super pollutant emission reductions. In 2021, Clean Air Task Force’s Super Pollutants Program Director was elected to the Board of Directors.
  • Put super pollutant emission reductions at the center of climate discussions at the Arctic Council.
  • Launched and led an eight-year U.S. Diesel Clean-Up Campaign resulting in many state and federal initiatives including emission limits and over $2 billion in funding that today is substantially reducing U.S. diesel emissions.
  • Catalyzed formation of the U.S. Methane Partners Campaign in 2014, which secured first-ever U.S. federal methane pollution standards for the oil and gas industry in 2016. In 2021, they successfully advocated for restoring those 2016 standards under the Congressional Review Act.
  • Supported adoption of strong, nationwide oil and gas methane standards in Mexico and Canada.
  • CATF has been asked to work with many additional nations on oil and gas methane reduction strategies and regulations, with a deep focus currently on Europe and Latin America and emerging projects in other regions.
  • Supported the successful launch of the Global Methane Pledge in 2021, with more than 100 countries participating.

What are super pollutants?

Potent climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon, have significant harmful effects on both human health and the environment.

Current Projects

See what we’re working on

U.S. Oil and Gas

Emissions from fossil fuel production and transport — especially methane released from oil and gas wells and the processing and transport of natural gas — account for a great deal of climate-warming pollution. Oil and gas companies also leak, flare, and vent billions of dollars worth of natural gas, containing methane, in the U.S. every year. CATF has advocated that the U.S. EPA and Department of the Interior require common sense and low-cost measures to reduce methane pollution and waste.

Learn more about our U.S. oil and gas work

International Oil and Gas

CATF’s global methane work seeks to significantly slash as well as prevent increases in methane emissions from oil and gas development. In countries where development is likely to begin or expand, CATF aims to ensure that environmental impacts are minimized through the application of modern technologies and practices and the regulatory knowledge developed over the last 20 years. CATF’s current international work focuses on country-level advocacy for strong and enforceable methane standards including work in Canada, Mexico, European Union, Norway, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina and Nigeria. In addition, CATF is working with the Arctic Council, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and other international bodies to make methane emission reductions a focus of their work. CATF is also spurring and supporting transatlantic and broader international cooperation on methane reduction commitments..

Learn more about our international oil and gas work

Other Sources of Methane

While the oil and gas industry is the number one industrial source of methane pollution, reductions in other sectors are not only economically justified but critical to realize necessary emission reductions. Substantial emissions also come from dams, coal mining operations, landfills, wastewater treatment, and manure management operations. CATF has worked to develop an understanding of methane emissions from these other sources including technologies and best practices and the barriers to using them, and we work to develop and implement policy and regulatory solutions that can be applied both in the U.S. as well as internationally.

Learn more about other sources of methane

Country Methane Abatement Tool (CoMAT)

CATF’s Country Methane Abatement Tool (CoMAT) lets countries estimate how much methane pollution they can reduce from their oil and gas industries even when they have limited information about the industry and its current emissions.

Learn more about CoMAT

Shipping

Currently, CATF is working to reduce black carbon emissions from the shipping sector and is committed to securing a legally binding phase out of the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic waters. This effort is particularly critical given the rapid rate of warming in the Arctic and the numerous threats that the use of HFO as bunker fuel poses to the Arctic region.

Learn more about our shipping work

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