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Enhancing climate change commitments to improve air quality and human health: practical experience from the UK and Asia

Representatives from Cambodia, Japan, Pakistan, the UK, UNEP and SEI will share their experiences in updating nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to achieve local air pollution and health benefits at an Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2021 side event.

Participants will highlight how air pollution and short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) can be integrated into climate change plans, provide insights on the next steps after having committed to NDCs and present the latest research on co-benefits.

9 July 2021 at 08:00 JST

ending at 10:00 JST

Japan and Online
Chureito Pagoda, Fujiyoshida-shi, Japan

The Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2021 Virtual Thematic sessions will be hosted by the Government of Japan.
Photo: Manuel Cosentino / Unsplash.

Why was it important to include action on short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) and air pollution benefits from climate change action in the country’s updated NDC? What process was followed in the NDC update? And what are the next steps in making the clearly articulated objectives on SLCPs and air pollution benefits a reality?

These are the questions representatives from Cambodia, Japan, Pakistan, the UK and UNEP will share their experiences on at an Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW) 2021 event organized by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and co-hosted by SEI.


In 2019, 6.6 million premature deaths were attributable to air pollution exposure. In 2020, in many locations, air quality improved due to lockdown measures intended to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as economies have restarted, air pollution levels rebounded. These rebounds underscore the need for actions that can sustainably reduce air pollution.

Some of the most sustainable actions not only reduce air pollution and improve health, but also mitigate climate change. Over 1 million premature deaths could be avoided annually if actions are taken globally to limit global temperature increases to ‘well below 2ºC’. In the Asia-Pacific region, the 2018 Air Pollution Solutions Report estimated that implementation of the top 25 ‘clean air’ actions could allow 1 billion people to breathe air below WHO air quality guidelines, while at the same time reducing global temperature increases by 0.3°C.

Air pollutants share many of the same sources as greenhouse gases (GHG), and therefore many actions that target major GHG emitting sources also reduce the co-emitted air pollutants. A subset of pollutants called short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including black carbon and methane, also directly contribute to air pollution and its health impacts and to global temperature increases.

For these health benefits to be realized, they need to be prioritized and reflected in countries’ climate change commitments (nationally determined contributions, NDCs). In 2015, only a few countries included SLCP mitigation or air pollution benefits from climate change mitigation in their NDCs. However, as countries update their NDCs, there is a notable change.

The UK, which holds the incoming COP26 Presidency, submitted its first NDC and specifically identified health and air pollution as key criteria in determining its decarbonization pathway. In addition, several countries in Asia and the Pacific are taking practical steps to identify and prioritize actions that can simultaneously reduce air pollution and improve health while mitigating climate change.

In 2020, Bangladesh and Mongolia, alongside other countries in Asia and the Pacific, submitted updated NDCs that increase their climate change mitigation ambitions and include targets, actions and activities that focus on achieving local air quality benefits and meeting international climate change commitments.

Watch the event

Watch the webinar using the link below.

Watch the event here


  • Welcome and opening (2 minutes)

    Kaye Patdu, Associate Programme Officer, UN Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

  • Opportunities for SLCP and air pollution to increase climate change mitigation ambition in Asia-Pacific (15 minutes)

    Eric Zusman, Senior Policy Researcher, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

  • Priorities for reducing SLCPs and integrating air pollution and climate change mitigation for Japan (15 minutes)

    Ko Matsuura, Section Chief, Office of International Cooperation in Air and Water Quality Management, Ministry of the Environment Japan

  • Evaluating clean air implications of net zero strategies: Practical experience from the United Kingdom (15 minutes)

    Rose Willoughby, Systems Research Programme, UK Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

  • Overview of the air pollution, health and climate change benefits from Cambodia’s First Clean Air Plan (10 minutes)

    Chandath Him, National Consultant, Ministry of Environment of Cambodia

  • Experiences of linking climate and clean air in Pakistan  (10 minutes)

    Syeda Hadika Jamshaid, Climate Change Policy Specialist, Pakistan Ministry of Climate Change

  • Emerging opportunities for improving public health through climate action: Results from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Methane Assessment (10 minutes)

    Johan Kuylenstierna, SEI

  • Questions and discussion (15 minutes)

  • Wrap-up (2 minutes)

    Kaye Patdu

SEI participant

Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna

Reader / Research Leader

SEI York

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