Policy ‘needs to factor in climate-pollution link’

Curbing air pollution and climate change requires coordinated policies that recognise the links between the two, a Government-commissioned report has found.

With substances like ozone acting both as air pollutants and climate change gases, air quality policies will affect climate change and vice versa, according to the Air Quality Expert Group report, published on Monday.

International climate change policies fail to take this into account, however, the experts said. Local, national and European policies must also recognise the links between climate change and air quality.

Pollutants that also contribute to climate change include ozone, particulate matter and nitrous oxides, but their effects are understood to a lesser degree than “well-mixed” greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, making regulation more difficult.

Climate change is also likely to impact air quality as smog intensifies with rising temperatures, the report said: “Hot summers like the 2003 heatwave are likely to become the norm by 2040, leading to increased summer smogs unless emissions affecting ozone concentrations are substantially reduced.”

Professor Mike Pilling, chairman of the Air Quality Expert Group, said: “The report draws together the most up-to-date research on the linkages between climate change and air quality.

“It examines the scientific background to these interactions and identifies synergies, where measures to improve air quality can help to tackle climate change, and trade-offs where policy measures in the two areas act in opposition.”

The full report can be accessed here.

Goska Romanowicz

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