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Côte d’Ivoire enhances its climate plan by tackling air pollution – a lever to improve public health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Côte d’Ivoire made its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement more ambitious by leveraging air pollution-reduction measures that can improve public health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A years-long collaboration with SEI and partners helped Côte d’Ivoire become one of the few countries to quantify the local health benefits of implementing NDCs. This article was originally published as a Partner Blog by the NDC Partnership, which helped fund the work through its Climate Action Enhancement Package.

Chris Malley / Published on 28 June 2022

Village in Côte d’Ivoire. Photo: Charles O’Rear / Getty Images

In Côte d’Ivoire, 24 million people are regularly exposed to air pollution levels that exceed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for the protection of human health. According to WHO estimates, Côte d’Ivoire’s air pollution led to 34,000 premature deaths, including the deaths of 8,000 children from respiratory infections, in 2016 alone. The adverse effects of air pollution are particularly pronounced among women and girls, who are the most impacted from charcoal and wood cooking.

Air pollution in Côte d’Ivoire is largely caused by the burning of wood and other biomass for cooking, as well as the open burning of waste and crop residues, and industry and vehicle emissions. As a result, addressing air pollution is critical not only to addressing public health issues, but also to unlocking greater climate ambition. To reduce the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve the health of local communities, Côte d’Ivoire recently submitted a more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that leverages air-pollution reduction measures.

“One of the most important aspects of the updated NDC is not only our increased climate change mitigation ambition or the air pollution benefits, but that the targets and commitments made are based on the identification and evaluation of specific mitigation measures that can achieve them,” said Ange-Benjamin Brida, Ministry of Environment of Côte d’Ivoire. “These measures were agreed with all stakeholders responsible for their implementation, which means that we have a clear plan to move from target setting to the process of implementing Côte d’Ivoire’s NDC.”

Côte d'Ivoire has become one of a few countries to quantitatively state the health benefits of climate change actions. This provides a strong argument to now move quickly to implement this contribution.

Through years of collaboration, the NDC Partnership supported Côte d’Ivoire in its efforts to quantify the local health benefits of incorporating air-pollution reduction measures into their enhanced NDC. Through the implementation of 38 mitigation actions included in the updated climate change plan, the country expects to prevent more than 7,000 premature deaths per year. In doing so, Côte d’Ivoire has become one of the few countries to quantitatively state the health benefits of climate action, while providing a strong case for accelerating NDC implementation.

Key to the evaluation of these mitigation measures was a quantitative, integrated assessment of GHGs, short-lived climate pollutants and air pollution mitigation that was supported by NDC Partnership Member the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and funded through the Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP) with the technical support of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Using SEI’s Low Emissions Analysis Platform (LEAP) tool, SEI researchers and planners evaluated specific measures and targets, including:

  • Boosting the use of gas for cooking so that two-thirds of Ivorian households use cleaner fuels by 2030,
  • Promoting the use of more efficient and zero-emission vehicles,
  • Taking steps to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas, agriculture and waste,
  • Expanding renewable electricity generation, and
  • Reducing deforestation and afforestation.

Making shea butter on an open fire in Côte d’Ivoire. Photo: Ivorr / Getty Images

The work in Côte d’Ivoire is one example of the ongoing efforts that SEI is making to align NDCs with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in roughly 20 low- and middle-income countries. Through its Initiative on Integrated Climate and Development Planning, SEI supports countries in developing strategies that integrate planning to achieve both their NDCs and the SDGs: the two measures that underpin the global mission of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Agenda.

Côte d’Ivoire’s NDC builds on a long-term collaboration between SEI and the Ministry of Environment of Côte d’Ivoire, the Ivorian Anti-Pollution Centre and the Université Houphouët-Boigny. From 2016 to 2020, SEI supported Côte d’Ivoire in developing a National Action Plan on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, which identified key mitigation measures integrated into the updated NDC. In 2015, Côte d’Ivoire’s NDC committed to a GHG emissions-reduction target of 28% compared to a baseline scenario; the 2022 NDC commits to an unconditional 30% GHG emissions-reduction target by 2030 compared to the baseline scenario, and a 98% reduction conditional on international support.

Looking forward, the NDC Partnership and SEI remain committed to supporting Côte d’Ivoire in moving from NDC planning to implementation. Through its Country Engagement process, the NDC Partnership’s Support Unit will continue to work with country Focal Points to address key implementation gaps and to mobilize critical member support at speed and scale. With CAEP support, SEI’s work in Côte d’Ivoire showcases how dedicated technical support can unlock higher climate change mitigation ambition and provide a clear pathway for improving public health and social development outcomes.

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