Air pollution and climate policies: workshop in Beijing

06/20/2014 – Policies aimed at countering climate change can have important co-benefits in terms of reduced air pollution and hence on public health. Now for the first time, a so-called multi model comparison was used by researchers to scrutinize this interplay using a whole set of different computer simulations of economic and social processes. Their findings, including a robust win-win-scenario, were recently at the center of a workshop in smoggy Beijing. It was hosted by the Energy Research Institute of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (ERI-NDRC), which is one of the most important players in the field, whereas the research project itself is coordinated by the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM). The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is part of the steering group and led a major analysis of 2 degree scenarios that was conducted by the project.
Air pollution and climate policies: workshop in Beijing
Smog-stricken Beijing: On Tiananmen Square, some people tried to protect themselves by wearing masks during one of many episodes of low air quality last year. Photo: Li Feng/Getty Images

“Cutting emissions from dirty coal-fired power plants would clearly help reduce both air pollution and greenhouse-gas accumulation in the atmosphere, and we can show that this in fact would be an economically reasonable thing to do”, says Elmar Kriegler from PIK who is a member of the steering committee of the project called LIMITS (Low Climate Impact Scenarios and the Implications of Required Tight Emission Control Strategies). In contrast to the global long-term problem of climate change, air pollution is local, and reducing it has immediate local benefits. “Therefore, it can be an important consideration facilitating national and international climate policy efforts”, says Keywan Riahi of IIASA who has led the air pollution study in the LIMITS project.

These findings have been integrated into the recently published 5th assessment report of the IPCC working group on mitigation. The workshop linked the scientific insights to the ongoing negotiation process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Besides Kriegler and Riahi, speakers at the workshop included Jiang Kejun of the ERI-NDRC, P.R. Shukla of the Indian Institute of Management, and Massimo Tavoni of FEEM.. The project is funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union.


Weblink to multi-model analysis of 2 degree scenarios:

Weblink to LIMITS policy brief in Chinese:

Weblink to LIMITS policy brief in English:

Weblink to LIMITS homepage:

Weblink to 5th Assment Report of the IPCC working group on mitigation: