Integrating air pollution and climate change mitigation - Research needs and pathways to policy implementation

Contact: Dr. Julia Schmale

Sustainable development, mitigation of air pollution and climate change are commonly not perceived as inextricably linked issues. The scientific literature, however, has long been reporting on how air quality and climate change in particular are related and how they link development questions. Air pollutants and greenhouse gases (GHGs) are often co-emitted by the same sources. And while a changing climate will have implications for air quality, many air pollutants have an impact on climate.

Especially the latter point has gained public and political attention since the inauguration of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to reduce short-lived climate-forcing pollutants (SLCPs) in 2012. Especially the reduction of warming SLCPs, such as black carbon, tropospheric ozone and methane, have various simultaneous and immediate benefits at local scales for public health, ecosystem protection, food security and climate change mitigation. But inter-linkages can be more complex and some air pollutants exert a cooling effect on climate. Hence, next to certain co-benefits there are also trade-offs. One example is domestic wood burning, often promoted as CO2 neutral energy source, which however leads to increased emissions of particulate matter including black carbon, a significant climate forcer.

In order to make use of the potential co-benefits and to avoid trade-offs and additional cost due to counter measures, more coordination between climate and air pollution mitigation strategies is needed on all political levels. Against this background, ClimPol focuses on finding pathways to policy implementation for better coordination between the two arenas at several levels, as well as on engaging and communicating with the public. To put this into practice, the project follows a transdisciplinary approach including the following key aspects:

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