A report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment), the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) and Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) identifies 25 measures to be taken on air pollution that can positively impact on human health, crop yields, climate change and socioeconomic development. The foreword notes that these initiatives contribute to the SDGs and reduce global warming by a third of a degree Celsius by 2050.
Establishing the current context and why “decisive action” is needed, the report titled, ‘Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-based Solutions,’ highlights that approximately 92% of the region’s population is exposed to air pollution that exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for public health protection. It further notes that, in 2015, 35% of deaths from ambient air pollution occurred in East Asia, while 33% occurred in South Asia. Analyses of trends and historical data are presented as aggregates for four sub-regions: East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and high-income countries.
The report groups the 25 solutions into three categories: 1) conventional emission controls, which focus primarily on fine particulate matter (PM2.5); 2) air quality measures for reducing emissions that lead to the formation of PM2.5, but are not yet major components of clean air policies in the region; and 3) measures contributing to development priority goals with benefits for air quality. The measures cover the industrial, transportation, agriculture, power generation, forest, waste, oil and gas, and residential cooking, heating and lighting sectors, among others.
In 2015, 35% of deaths from ambient air pollution occurred in East Asia, while 33% occurred in South Asia.
According to the publication, health, environmental and other development benefits from implementing the measures include a more stable food supply, slower glacier melt in the Himalayas, and the avoidance of 2 million deaths per year from indoor air pollution. The report outlines factors that enable success, as well as economic implications. It notes that implementation of the measures across the region is expected to cost between US$300 billion and 600 billion, but stresses that this sum is less than a twentieth of the expected resultant increase in gross domestic product (GDP).
Underscoring the importance of cross-sector engagement, the report highlights that, although several measures are aligned with national development priorities and domestic public finance, multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the private sector can contribute to and provide investment in cleaner technologies. Breaking down barriers between traditional decision-making structures and engaging with civil society will also be key to implementation, the paper notes. The authors stress that Asia’s diversity calls for tailored approaches that suit local contexts and point to relevant country experiences and case studies that showcase success.
A release by CCAC emphasizes the measures’ contribution to the SDGs, particularly Goals 3 (good health and well-being), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 13 (climate action). The write-up also points to enhanced food and water security for people in the region, which contributes to SDGs 2 (zero hunger) and 6 (clean water and sanitation).
The report was prepared in response to Resolution 1/7 of the first session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), held in 2014. The Resolution calls on UNEP to prepare regional reports on issues relating to air quality.
Source: UN SDG Knowledge Hub