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 webinar using the link below.
Kaye Patdu, Associate Programme Officer, UN Environment Programme Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Eric Zusman, Senior Policy Researcher, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
Ko Matsuura, Section Chief, Office of International Cooperation in Air and Water Quality Management, Ministry of the Environment Japan
Rose Willoughby, Systems Research Programme, UK Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Chandath Him, National Consultant, Ministry of Environment of Cambodia
Syeda Hadika Jamshaid, Climate Change Policy Specialist, Pakistan Ministry of Climate Change
Johan Kuylenstierna, SEI