PhD promotion: possibilities for integrated policy for air quality and climate change

18-11-2015 | News item

Far-reaching climate policy usually goes hand in hand with less air pollution. These co-benefits could make it more attractive for countries like China and India to move towards a more efficient energy system and a larger share of renewables. This is one of the main conclusions of the thesis of Clifford Chuwah, who obtained his PhD degree at the Wageningen University on 3 November 2015. This was the result of research undertaken at PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).

There are important connections between climate change and air pollution. Both are to a great extent caused by the same activities, notably by burning fossil energy. In addition, air pollution (such as sulphur aerosols and soot) can also have an effect on climate change. To explore these interactions in depth, Chuwah coupled the results of relevant models of PBL and KNMI. Senior researchers Detlef van Vuuren (PBL) and Wilco Hazeleger (KNMI) acted as doctoral supervisors.

The study shows how sensible policies on climate and air quality can lead to co-benefits. This could help reducing climate change and to increase public support for policy measures. However, there can also be negative effects. Extensive reductions of sulphur aerosol emissions in Asia could lead to further climate change, mainly in the region itself but possibly also in the Arctic region. It is therefore important to coordinate policies on climate change and air quality, for instance at the international climate summit in Paris later this year.