Air pollution and climate change are closely linked: they often share the same emission sources and have negative impacts on human health, ecosystems and economic development.
Integrated actions on air pollution and climate change, such as those that target short-lived climate pollutants, can achieve multiple real-world benefits for human wellbeing, ecosystem health and the climate. Fast action can also help transform key emitting sectors and support greater ambition to de-carbonize.
Through the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, the nations of the world set an ambitious long-term climate target and framed their ambition in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. In this context, the path the world takes to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement is just as important as reaching its goal to limit global warming to well below 2˚C.
Fast mitigation of air pollutants and greenhouse gases that contribute to both near- and long-term climate impacts, increase our chances of success.
Rapidly reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon, as drivers of near-term warming, alongside urgent carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions, can slow the rate of warming over the next few decades, which will help limit near-term impacts and increase the ability for communities and ecosystems to adapt. It increases the probability of not overshooting the 2˚C threshold throughout the 21st century and later, while also supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
For many countries, the local and immediate benefits of air quality and climate action are important development concerns and key to promoting greater ambition.
By analysing and tracking the impact of climate and clean air strategies in an integrated manner, policymakers and planners have the tools to understand, compare, and communicate the impacts of their actions on global temperature, as well as the local benefits for air quality and development in sectors such as health, energy, agriculture and transport.
By integrating air quality and greenhouse gas inventories and scenarios countries can identify win-win scenarios, such as short-lived climate pollutant mitigation strategies, as well as identify and mitigate loss-win scenarios, which creates strong basis for policy decisions.
An integrated approach can also complement and enhance Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) development and reporting.
Video: IPCC 1.5°C Report author, Drew Shindell, explains why reducing short-lived climate pollutants is necessary to achieve 1.5°C climate goal
Many countries recognize the value of an integrated framework to support strong decision-making and are already taking action to assess the benefits of their climate and air pollution strategies and measures. Many more, see the value in such an approach, but may not have the resources or practical methodology to undertake it.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition has developed an approach to support an integrated approach to mitigation and has built into it a practical application framework that countries and regions can use to understand the climate and clean air consequences of their mitigation strategies and analyse and track the impact of their actions in an integrated manner. This framework builds upon existing national processes and can support governments to take decisions and define ambition in line with our collective near-term sustainable development goals and Paris Climate Agreement temperature target.
Broad application of this integrated framework can unlock greater ambition for mitigation in all sectors. Focusing on both the immediate and long-term the benefits of action helps policymakers and planners quantify and communicate the importance of national actions on not just global temperature, but also on local air quality, livelihoods and economy.
Ghana used existing infrastructure, data sets and institutional arrangements to create an inventory of GHGs and SLCPs. In a second step they included other air pollutants beyond commonly reported ones like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides. Using these data, Ghana created policy packages based on scenarios to make the compelling argument for more action. The approach helped quantify benefits like premature deaths avoided, reduction in crop losses, and Ghana’s lower contribution to global temperature rise.
Video: Daniel Benefor discusses Ghana's experience at an integrated approach to air pollution and climate change
Norway has analysed the near term climate effect and health effects of measures to reduce emissions of short lived climate pollutants and greenhouse gases since 2012. Vigdis Vestreng, Senior Adviser at the Norwegian Environment Agency said a key reason for taking an integrated approach was to ensure the country had robust policies that consider both climate change and air pollution.
Video: Vigdis Vestreng discusses Norway’s road to a pathway approach
Time to Act, released in abbreviated form in 2013, has already proved valuable to governments, organizations, businesses and others interested in new ways to reduce global warming, improve health...