Boy wearing a mouth mask against air pollution (Beijing).

Boy wearing a mouth mask against air pollution (Beijing) Photo: Hung_Chung_Chih / Getty Images.

Order of speakers:

  • Johan Kuylenstierna, Stockholm Environment Institute (chair) | @JKuylenstierna
  • George Thurston, NYU School of Medicine | @ProfGThurston
  • Amparo Martinez, INECC Mexico | @amparomtza
  • Ange Benjam Brida, Cote d’Ivoire
  • Paolo  Vineis, School of Public Health, Imperial College London | @ImperialSPH
  • Katie Ross, World Resources Institute | @WorldResources

Speaker summaries

Johan C.I Kuylenstierna, Stockholm Environment Institute

Johan will frame the event by explaining the important linkages between the problems of air pollution and climate change: linked because the sources of air pollutants are in many cases the same as those leading to CO2 and other GHG emissions, and linked by the focus on mitigation strategies to reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) that can help to reduce warming in the near term as well as health and crop impacts from reduced air pollution. He will then explain how the how the CCAC SNAP Initiative has been helping countries to develop integrated air pollution and climate change plans and briefly describe the guidance produced by the SNAP Initiative from this experience, explaining to planners in different countries how they can use integrated air pollution and climate strategies to motivate increased ambition in their NDCs. This is by appealing to the self-interest by achieving multiple local benefits from applying emission reduction measures, especially related to health, and at the same time contributing further to reducing the GHG and SLCP emissions causing warming. This can help to raise ambition in NDC commitments and Johan will show some results of analyses undertaken by countries in the SNAP initiative. Finally, Johan will explain that these mitigation strategies not only provide benefits by reducing climate change and air pollution, but that they also have the potential to achieve many sustainable development goals. The subsequent speakers will provide specific examples of how planning on integrated climate change and air pollution mitigation can be effective in countries, and provide further details on the linkages between climate change mitigation and achieving human health benefits’.

Bio:

Johan is a Research Leader at Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), a member of the Global Research Committee of SEI, and a Reader at the University of York, UK. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC). He was previously Policy Director for SEI (2013-18) and Director of the SEI York centre from 1997 to 2012 and has worked at SEI since it was formed in 1989. Key areas of interest relate to atmospheric issues, and his current focus is in the integration of strategies to address climate change and air quality, in particular those associated with strategies to reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs). He is leading the development of an SLCP strategy support tool – LEAP-IBC used by different countries and cities to plan their emission reduction strategies as part of the CCAC initiative on Supporting National Action and Planning (SNAP) on SLCPs.

George Thurston, NYU School of Medicine

“Accelerating the elimination of coal combustion by focusing on the health benefits of clean air”

George will discuss the impact of burning fossil fuels, particularly coal, on air quality and human health.

Recent research shows that the fine particulate matter air pollution produced by fossil fuel combustion is the largest threat to cardiovascular health on a per unit of pollution basis. Despite this, coal-burning power plants are still being built at a rapid pace, especially in the developing world.  Low-cost alternative sources of electricity must immediately be developed and implemented.

Bio:

George is a tenured Professor of Environmental Medicine and Population Health at the New York University School of Medicine. Professor Thurston’s research has focused on the human health effects of air pollution on children, including the Backpack Study of the effects of diesel air pollution on children with asthma in the South Bronx, NY and effects of industrialized air pollution in Cubatao, Brazil, in addition to larger studies of pollution effects in the ACS and NIH-AARP Cohorts. He recently led the development of the 2017 ERS-ATS Statement on What Constitutes an Adverse Health Effect of Air Pollution. Dr. Thurston first spoke on the topic of the potential human health co-benefits of clean air from climate mitigation action at the COP5 meeting in 1999. 

Amparo Martinez, INECC, Mexico

“Mexico’s integrated strategy on short-lived climate pollutants to improve air quality and reduce the impact of climate change”

Amparo will discuss Mexico’s efforts to strengthen the linkages between air quality and climate planning and to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.

Mexico, recognizing the importance of reducing these pollutants in order to reduce the country’s contribution to climate change and improve air quality, included in its NDC an objective to reduce black carbon emissions by 51%, being the first country in the world to do so (along with a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by 20%). They identified actions in sectors such as transport, sugar cane, household energy and bricks to reduce black carbon emissions, and in livestock, solid waste to reduce methane. This detailed sectoral analysis has then showed how the black carbon target in the NDC could be achieved.

Ange Benjamin Brida, CIAPOL, Côte d’Ivoire

“Strengthened integration of climate and clean air planning in Côte d’Ivoire”

Ange Benjamin will discuss how Côte d’Ivoire undertook a national planning process to strengthen the linkages between their climate and clean air actions in collaboration with key national stakeholders, the initial results and the main sectors in which strengthening the coherence is particularly important (transport, cookstoves and agriculture).

He will also present the main benefits of taking action in these key sectors to reduce impact on climate and air pollution. He will also discuss the importance of developing the quantitative analysis as a way to communicate between climate and air quality strategies

Paolo Vineis, School of Public Health, Imperial College London 

“Shifting to a sustainable diet to improve public health – and tackle climate change”

Paolo will discuss how shifting towards more sustainable diets can help tackle climate change and improve public health.

In order to meet the Paris Agreement to maintain global warming within 2 degrees it is imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Western diets are characterised by high consumption of processed foods, red meat and sugars, and are resulting in high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity. Shifting dietary patterns to, for example, a diet that encompasses plants, legumes and nuts as the major protein source, could significantly lower the environmental impact of agriculture, as well as improving public health.

Bio:

Professor Paolo Vineis is Chair of Environmental Epidemiology at Imperial College London and a leading researcher in the fields of molecular epidemiology and NCDs. He is engaged in policy-making as Vice-President of the High Council of Health (Consiglio Superiore di Sanita’, advisor to the Health Minister) in Italy, and as a member of Cancer Prevention Europe (affiliated with Cancer Mission Europe).
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/p.vineis

Phone number: +39 3404649653

Katie Ross, World Resources Institute

“Enhancing ambition of Nationally Determined Contributions”

Katie will conclude the panel discussion by highlighting the main points from the earlier interventions and setting them in the context of how these different approaches can help enhance NDCs.

Bio:

Katie Ross is an Associate with the Climate Program at World Resources Institute. Her work focuses on strengthening commitments under the Paris Agreement – and specifically on NDCs and long-term strategies.

Katie co-leads WRI’s engagement with the CCAC.

 

An official side event at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, co-organised by the Grantham Institute and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.