Short-Lived Climate Pollutants & USAID’s Climate Strategy: Achieving Fast Mitigation
Short-lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) include methane, black carbon (BC) and several short-lived
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). They are a form of air pollution that have a substantially shorter lifespan in
the atmosphere compared to long-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs) like carbon dioxide (CO2), yet they
warm the planet significantly especially in the near-term. Reducing the emissions of SLCPs, in addition to
reducing CO2 emissions, is a priority for the US Government evident in the recent launch of the Global
Methane Pledge and recommitment to the Clean Cooking Alliance.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the only possible scenario for limiting
global warming to 1.5°C and avoiding catastrophic impacts of climate change requires reducing emissions
of both CO2 and SLCPs. The US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC) articulates SLCPs as
providing an opportunity for “fast mitigation” to avoid near-term warming through 2050. The aim of this
report is to provide programmatic guidance to USAID operating units and missions on reducing SLCP
emissions due to improved understanding of their importance in meeting global climate mitigation goals.
Also for many developing countries a key motivation for climate action is reducing air pollution, and
reducing SLCPs can help countries meet local air quality priorities in order to help grow their climate
This guide identifies possible SLCP actions that can be taken across key sectors and USAID regions for
advancing development and climate goals. To date USAID has limited explicit programming on
methane and black carbon mitigation, however USAID has significant presence across key emitting SLCP
sectors and countries. This document aims to prepare USAID staff for the growing requests on SLCPs and
clarify the SLCP component under USAID’s new Climate Strategy 2022-2030 (Strategic Objective 1 and
IR 1.1- Catalyze urgent mitigation, including both emissions reduction and sequestration, from energy, land use, and other key sources). In addition, the guide helps to accelerate and scale targeted SLCP action within the USAID portfolio, including actions on methane under the Global Methane Pledge.
The two primary climate change funding streams available to support methane and black carbon mitigation at USAID depending on context and source of emissions are Clean Energy (EG.12) and Sustainable Landscapes (EG.13). Since each funding stream is governed by a set of guidelines due to the intent of the funding, not all SLCP work is achievable using these two earmarks alone, making mitigation co-benefits from other sectors critical. For instance, USAID staff should consider leveraging non-climate change directive funds, such as Agriculture, Feed the Future, Water and Sanitation, Ocean Plastic Pollution, Global Health, Education, and Democracy, Human Rights and Governance.
There are several activities across the USAID portfolio that can utilize existing program funding to achieve
development gains while simultaneously reducing SLCPs. The priorities will vary by region given political,
social and geographical factors that favor certain actions over others.
- Download Black Carbon & Methane Dataset for USAID Countries (CEDS, 2019). Note, please use the EPA dataset below for detailed methane data for each country.
- Download Methane Dataset for USAID Countries (EPA, 2020). Note this is the most widely used global dataset on methane emissions.
Key SLCP Reduction Actions
• Recovery of vented and fugitive emissions of methane from coal, oil and natural gas production,
including from deep coal mines, leaking pipelines and storage tanks.
• Expand collection and source separation of municipal waste to enable recycling, composting
and waste diversion. When appropriate, design new sanitary landfills or rehabilitate unmanaged
disposal sites (i.e. open dumps) with active methane recovery systems.
• Advance integrated solid waste management along with behavior change and strengthening
institutional capacities on circular economy practices.
• Expand wastewater treatment with methane abatement technologies, where the enabling
environment exists. Increase frequency of fecal sludge collection and transport where appropriate
build methane abatement technologies in fecal sludge treatment, and support the enabling
environment to ensure sustainability.
• Reduce enteric methane production through improved feeding practices of ruminant livestock,
through increased quantity and quality of animal feed intake, support for fodder and forage
production, rangeland management and development of other animal feed systems and advisory
services to optimize animal nutrition.
• Improve health and management of livestock through strengthened capacities of public and
private animal health, extension and advisory services to promote animal breeding, animal welfare
and other management practices for increased livestock productivity coupled with governance
mechanisms to protect high carbon landscapes.
• Undertake livestock manure management to supply organic fertilizer, through soil amendment to
enhance soil carbon stocks and/or consider anaerobic digesters when appropriate.
• Implement rice paddy water management for alternate wetting and drying, promote dry direct
seeded rice varieties, and follow a system of rice intensification.
• Encourage the use of better post-harvest techniques (e.g. Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS)
bags and drying technologies) and agriculture product preservation (e.g. establishing food cold
chains and improved transport containers to reduce damage to products).
• Expand and enforce efforts to reduce open burning of crop residues and find alternative,
productive uses of crop biomass (e.g. animal feed, soil amendment or fuel source).
• Address demand-side interventions by: (i) reducing food loss and waste, (ii) strengthening food
safety capacity and training to reduce contamination, and (iii) in contexts where diets are of
sufficient quality (i.e. providing adequate macro and micro-nutrients), shifting diets away from high
emission ruminant-based products and other dietary components to other nutrient dense, lower emission alternatives.
• Support circular economy in food systems to reuse unsafe/inedible food products as animal feed
or for insect production to prevent products from ending as food waste.
• Advance adoption of stringent diesel engine emissions standards. This also requires fuel quality
standards that reduce fuel sulfur levels to enable advanced control systems to function.
• Accelerate electrification of diesel fleets, anti-idling measures, green freight adoption or other
measures (e.g. urban planning, travel efficiency measures) to reduce and shift away from the use of
diesel and high-emitting gas engines.
• Identify and eliminate “high emitting” diesel and gasoline engines by enhancing inspection and
maintenance programs with rigid enforcement.
• Support the creation of integrated waste management systems by expanding waste collection
services, source separation, recycling and composting to reduce trash burning, and improve landfill
• Improve access to cleaner cooking, heating and lighting, paying particular attention to affordability,
convenience and cultural acceptance of alternatives.
• Shift lump coal use to briquettes where clean fuel transition is impractical.
• Replace existing brick kilns and coke ovens with more efficient designs. Government action should
include regulations and standards enforcement, legislative mandates, as well as private sector
enticements, such as preferential permitting, access to markets, and concessional financing.
• Recovery and utilization of flared natural gas through finance of small modular electricity
generation plants, truck-mounted, modular liquefied natural gas plants, integrated compressed
natural gas systems and modular, remotely operated mini-gas-to-liquid plants.
• Expand and enforce efforts to reduce open burning of crop residues through development
of markets for crop waste or implement fire management practices to enhance combustion