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Journal article

Integration of short-lived climate pollutant and air pollutant mitigation in nationally determined contributions

Limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 °C while respecting ‘the right to health’ requires substantial reductions in Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs), including methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons, and co-emitted air pollutants. This study evaluates the inclusion of SLCP and air pollutant mitigation within Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that were submitted between 2015 and 2022.

Chris Malley, Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna / Published on 5 January 2023

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Malley, C. S., Lefèvre, E. N., Kuylenstierna, J. C. I., Haeussling, S., Howard, I. C., & Borgford-Parnell, N. (2022). Integration of Short-Lived Climate Pollutant and air pollutant mitigation in nationally determined contributions. Climate Policy, 1–13.

Major road full of vehicles in São Paulo, Brazil

Traffic congestion in São Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Levi Bianco / Getty Images

Key policy insights

  • Local benefits for human health from air pollution improvements is a key priority for more countries in post-2020 NDCs compared to earlier NDC reporting.
  • Many countries now include specific mitigation measures in NDCs that can simultaneously reduce SLCPs and co-emitted air pollutants alongside GHGs, helping to achieve local air quality and health improvements.
  • To demonstrate the achievement of local air pollutant and SLCP reductions, countries focusing on NDC implementation should ensure air pollutants and SLCPs are integrated into climate change monitoring frameworks.
  • Post-2020 NDCs provide many clear examples of how inclusion of SLCPs and air pollutants can both increase climate change mitigation ambition and achieve local development benefits, which could be adopted in other countries.

Between pre- and post-2020 NDCs, explicit reference to SLCPs and air pollutant mitigation as priorities more than doubled, indicating a rise in policy attention to these pollutants. There was also a large increase in the percentage of countries including methane and HFCs within the scope of their overall GHG reduction targets, and three countries include explicit black carbon reduction targets.

With respect to policy, there was a 45% increase in the number of specific mitigation measures included in NDCs post-2020. Hence, the number of countries with implicit reductions in SLCPs and other air pollutants covered in their NDCs is now also substantially larger compared to pre-2020, due to greater inclusion of mitigation measures that reduce SLCPs and air pollutants alongside (other) GHGs.

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SEI authors

Chris Malley

Senior Research Fellow

SEI York

Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna

Reader / Research Leader

SEI York

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