Press release

ICCT wins 2017 Climate and Clean Air Award for Transformative Action

Bonn, November 12, 2017: The 2017 Climate and Clean Air Award for Transformative Action has gone to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), for its initiative to conduct checks of real-world emissions of diesel cars in the United States. This work uncovered a global scheme by Volkswagen to deliberately avoid motor vehicle standards. The scandal continues to reverberate in the auto industry and has raised global awareness of the impact of diesel vehicles on air quality.

The ICCT’s actions have ultimately shifted global attitudes toward diesel, changed the direction of the automobile industry, which is now moving away from diesel and petrol engines and toward electric mobility, highlighted the need to closely monitor self-regulating companies, and raised global awareness of the dangers of vehicle pollution to health and the environment in a transformative way.

It is a defining example of the need of an engaged and active NGO sector and the additional value of NGOs bring to helping frame, develop, and execute transformative policy.

The ICCT’s work led to the world’s largest fiscal penalties for vehicle emissions violations, and started a process of improving compliance and enforcement programs within the U.S., Europe, China, Korea, Japan and many other major markets. Paris, Madrid, Athens, Mexico City announced diesel bans by 2025, in part inspired by the subsequent real world emissions testing by Germany, France and United Kingdom. The Volkswagen scandal initiated actions to enhance the European vehicle emissions enforcement regime, including votes in the European Council and Parliament to grant greater authority to the EU Commission to recall vehicles and to member states to impose fines. The impact of the Volkswagen scandal to air quality is significant and include reduced concentrations of secondary particulates and ozone. It also had myriad effects on nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and future policies to control NOx.

Legal actions in the US that force the fix or recall of affected Volkswagen vehicles with 2.0 litre engines could avoid 68,000–82,000 tonnes of NOx and 119– 140 premature deaths between 2016 and 2040, with a value of US$ 905–910 million. These benefits could be 20% higher if the fix or recall of Volkswagen vehicles with 3.0 litre engines are also taken into account.

It is not guaranteed that all affected Volkswagen vehicles sold worldwide will be fixed or recalled. In the EU, fixing or recalling the 8.5 million vehicles affected could avoid approximately 800,000 tonnes of NOx and US$ 62 billion in health damages cumulatively between 2016 and 2040.

Strengthened Real Driving Emissions test programs in all major markets that follow the EU’s regulatory example could avoid 1.5 million tonnes of NOx and 31,400 premature deaths per year in 2040.

The 2017 Climate and Clean Air Award Winners

The International Council on Clean Transport joins the following winners of the 2017 Climate and Clean Air Awards:

  • The Award for Outstanding Policy went to the State of California for putting the most comprehensive and strongest set of targets for reducing short-lived climate pollutant emissions into state law, and for developing a detailed plan to meet these targets.
  • The National Petroleum Authority of Ghana was also recognized with an award for Outstanding Policy for putting in place strong measures to reduce vehicle emissions. Ghana is the first West African country to move to low sulfur diesel and with a new sulfur content standard of 50 parts per million (ppm), down from 3000 ppm.
  • The Award for Individual Achievement went to Mr Sameer Maithel, for his work to reduce black carbon emissions from brick kilns in India. By helping install cleaner, more efficient brick kiln technologies, Mr Maithel has demonstrated that significant emission reductions of black carbon can be achieved by retrofitting and converting existing kilns, benefitting workers, owners, and the environment.
  • An Honorary Award for Individual Achievement was given to Marcelo Mena Carrasco, Minister of Environment Chile, for his work to reduce air pollution in Chile. Under Mr. Carrasco’s leadership, Chile created “Plans of Prevention and Decontamination of Atmospheric Pollution (PPDA)” for 14 cities. Implementing these plans has led to significant reductions in air pollution and has made Chile a global leader in actions to improve air quality.
  • The Award for Innovative Technology was given to Öresundskraft Kraft and Varme AB for using sea water and absorption cooling technology to cool downtown Helsingborg, Sweden. The District Cooling expansion shows that there are alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and offers a sustainable, competitive, and need-driven cooling service to customers on a city-wide scale.
  • An Honorary Award for Innovative Technology was given to Durban (eThekwini) Municipality for its Durban Landfill Conservancies project, a successful landfill that reduces emissions of methane, provides safe waste disposal, produces electricity for the local grid and employs workers from the surrounding communities.

About the Climate and Clean Air Award

The Climate and Clean Air Awards recognize exceptional contributions and actions to implement projects, programmes, policies and practices that reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons and tropospheric ozone.

Reducing these dangerous air and climate pollutants is key to improving air quality, slowing the rate of climate change and provides multiple benefits for health, ecosystems and the sustainable development goals.

The award is global in scope and the nominees cover a wide range of activities and actions from individual efforts to transform a polluting sector to state and national policies that are transforming attitudes, sparking innovation, and providing business opportunities. As a collective, this group of nominees show what real climate action looks like.

Awards will be presented in four categories:

  • Individual Achievement: recognizes the efforts by an individual to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.
  • Outstanding Policy: recognizes air quality improvement and SLCP reduction policies (and their implementation) that are bold and transformative.
  • Innovative Technology: recognizes technological interventions to reduce air pollution and protect the climate that are ground-breaking, accessible and scalable.
  • Transformative Action: recognizes an action or activity that has fundamentally changed attitudes, practices, and/or policies related to air pollution and climate change.

An Honorary Award may also be awarded to nominees that are deemed to have considerably contributed to SLCP reduction efforts, awareness, and/or leadership.

Jury Panel

The Jury for the Climate and Clean Air Award are:

  • Ms. Annika Markovic, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),
  • Mr. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, former Minister of State for Environment, Peru, and President of COP 20. He is the current head of WWF’s global climate work.
  • Dr. Youba Sokona, Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
  • Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary for Sustainable Development a t the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

About short-lived climate pollutants

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition works to reduce four short-lived climate pollutants: black carbon (or soot), methane, tropospheric (or ground level) ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These pollutants are powerful climate forcers many times more potent at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Some, like black carbon and ozone, also have serious immediate impacts to human health and food security. The four SLCPs contribute about 40% of the manmade heat energy being added to the planet every year. Reducing emissions of methane, black carbon, and HFCs can help reduce predicted global warming by as much as 0.6 degrees Celsius (⁰C) by 2050, helping to achieve the global goal to limit warming to 1.5 ⁰C. Air pollutions is responsible for approximately 6.5 million premature deaths every year and the plant growth. Fully implementing the Coalition’s SLCP reduction measures can prevent 2.5 million premature deaths and avoid up to 52 million tonnes of crop losses every year. The Coalition works on a range of measures across key polluting sectors – diesel, brick production, municipal solid waste, oil and gas production, agriculture, household energy, and HFCs. It also works to improve national planning and capacity through its SNAP initiative, improves the understanding and actions of the health sector, works to finance SLCP mitigation and increases understanding of the impacts of and solutions to SLCP emissions by carrying out regional assessments.

Information on each pollutant can be found here.

The 2017 shortlist

The inaugural Climate and Clean Air Awards attracted a large number of stellar candidates. From these 14 were shortlisted by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Steering Committee for consideration by a panel of four judges. You can see the full list here.

Link to Climate and Clean Air Awards Announcement:

Link to Awards Shortlist: