Climate Change and Air Pollution

1st January 2021
Author: Francis Pope, Heba Akasha, Omid Ghaffarpasand

This rapid literature review explores the interactions between climate change and air pollution, with a focus on human health impacts. In particular, the report explores potential synergies in tackling climate change and air pollution together. The impacts and implications of the transition from a carbon-intensive economy upon air quality and consequently human health are examined. Discussing climate change without air pollution can lead to risks. For example, strategies that focus on electrification and transition to renewable energy achieve maximum health and air quality benefits compared to strategies that focus mainly on combustible renewable fuels (biofuel and biomass) with some electrification. Addressing climate change necessitates a shift towards a new low carbon era. This involves stringent and innovative changes in behaviour, technology, and policy. There are distinct benefits of considering climate change and air pollution together. Many of the processes that cause climate change also cause air pollution, and hence reductions in these processes will generate cleaner air and less global warming. Politically, the consideration of the two issues in tandem can be beneficial because of the time-inconsistency problems of climate change. Air pollution improvements can offer politicians victories, on a useful timescale, to help in their aims of reversing climate change. By coupling air pollution and air pollution agendas together, it will increase the media and political attention both environmental causes receive. Policies should involve the integration of climate change, air quality, and health benefits to create win-win situations. The success of the strategies requires financial and technical capacity building, commitment, transparency, and multidisciplinary collaboration, including governance stakeholders at multiple levels, in both a top-down and bottom-up manner.

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Suggested Citation

Akasha, H. Ghaffarpasand, O. and Pope, F. (2021). Climate Change and Air Pollution. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies. DOI: 10.19088/K4D.2021.071


1st January 2021


Continent: Global