In one specific example, the authors describe how providing affordable, clean household energy can improve household incomes (SDG 1.1) educational outcomes (SDG 4), access to modern energy (SDG 7.1), physical security and opportunities for women (SDG 5.2 & 5.5) and contribute to the development of sustainable cities and housing (SDG 11.1 & 11.6). At the same time clean household energy technologies reduce exposure to household air pollution (SDG 3.2, 3.4 & 3.9), and contribute to reduced climate warming (SDG 13), and deforestation (SDG 15).
“Governments have committed to achieving climate change mitigation goals, and they’ve committed to SDGs, but there’s often limited awareness of how those two are really linked.” said co-author and Professor of Climate Sciences at Duke University, Drew Shindell. “The pathway that we take to achieve our long-term targets must pass through our near-term goals, and in this context action to address short-lived climate pollutants are critically important.”
The paper comes at a particularly important moment as, global Environment Ministers gather in Nairobi, Kenya next week for the third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 3) under the overarching theme of stopping pollution. And next year countries will meet again for the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue (formerly known as the facilitative dialogue) to assess progress and raise ambition to achieve the long-term climate targets of the Paris Agreement.
“From a climate perspective, the global community only has two more chances to come together to find the common ambition necessary to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, and those are the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue and the second round of Nationally Determined Contributions in 2020,” said Nathan Borgford-Parnell, co-author and Science Affairs Consultant with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. “Additional specific efforts to reduce carbon emissions is critical, but what if, in 2018, the ambition the world is looking for isn’t only to be found in pledges to reduce carbon emissions? What if the extra ambition we’re all searching for is in the millions of lives saved by addressing air pollution?”
To capitalize on the inherent synergies between air pollution reduction and SDGs, it will be important to quantify the multiple benefits of short-lived climate pollutant mitigation policies, while addressing potential trade-offs. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition, through its seven sectoral and four cross-cutting initiatives is working to provide guidance and institutional support to develop and implement strategies to quickly reduce black carbon, methane and HFC emissions.
“The Coalition is working with countries to develop national plans for action that reduce short-lived climate pollutant emissions. Countries are interested in taking action because this promotes development,” said Johan Kuylenstierna, co-author and Policy Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute in York. “As part of this we are supporting countries with tools and methodologies that provide quantitative estimates of health, crop yield and climate benefits of mitigation. Benefits that align with many SDGs. The LEAP-IBC tool that we are launching shortly at UNEA 3, is one such tool they are using to estimate emissions and benefits.”