The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), AirQualityAsia and The Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society at Boston College today released an evaluation of 22 practical interventions undertaken to reduce air pollution. While some efforts that replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources improve both local health and favorably impact climate change, other, often politically popular programs are of limited value on either front.
“There has been an assumption that adverse conditions impacting climate change and air pollution are the same thing. This is not necessarily true,” says Richard Fuller, Board Chair of the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution and a co-author of the report. “We wanted to see where the overlaps are, where investments can be directed that will improve health and also impact climate change.”
The report, Air Pollution Interventions: Seeking the Intersection Between Climate and Health, finds that “the single most effective action to achieve co-benefits that improve health and impact climate change is to phase out the use of coal (and other fossil fuels, such as lignite and tar products) for power production.”
The Top Five most effective interventions that improve both health, by reducing PM2.5, and climate, by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, according to the report are:
- Replacing coal with renewable sources of energy for total power production;
- Replacing diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles with electric vehicles in both the public and private sector;
- Eliminating uncontrolled diesel emissions;
- Preventing crop burning;
- Preventing forest fires.
The report’s authors found that converting total power production from coal to renewable sources can be highly cost effective and easy to implement, if the changes are made when new plants are brought online.
GAHP is a collaborative body made up of more than 60 members and dozens of observers that advocates for resources and solutions to pollution problems. In 2012, Pure Earth initiated the alliance together with representatives from The World Bank, UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO, Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, Ministries of Environment and Health of many low and middle-income countries to formulate strategies to address pollution and health at scale. In 2019, GAHP incorporated as a foundation in Geneva, Switzerland.