In March 2010, Defra and the devolved administrations published the document Air Pollution: Action in a Changing Climate, which highlights the additional health benefits that can be achieved through closer integration of air quality and climate change policies in future.
This ‘forward look’ document does not replace the current air quality strategy but accounts for the rapid development of climate change policy since the strategy was published in 2007. In particular, the publication includes the following key messages:
- Air pollution often originates from the same activities that contribute to climate change (notably transport and electricity generation) so it makes sense to consider how the linkages between air quality and climate change policy areas can be managed to best effect.
- The UK’s commitment to build a Low Carbon Economy by 2050 will reduce air pollution but the choices made to get there will affect the extent of air quality improvements. Optimizing climate policy decisions to account for air pollution could yield additional benefits of approximately £24 billion by 2050.
- Air quality/climate change co-benefits can be realised through actions such as promoting low-carbon vehicles and renewable sources of energy that do not involve combustion. At the same time, actions that tackle climate change but damage air quality must be avoided.
- Action will be needed at international, EU, national, regional and local levels to make sure air quality and climate change policies are integrated to maximise the co-benefits of tackling both air pollution and climate change together and ensure ambitious but realistic air quality targets are set for the future.