The integration of climate change considerations into local air quality management plans in South Africa.
In recent years there has been considerable advancement in our scientific understanding of the linkages and interactions between climate change and air quality. A warmer, evolving climate is likely to have severe consequences for air quality due to impacts on pollution sources and meteorology. The issues of poor air quality and anthropogenic induced climate change further share common sources of pollutants and thus options for control. The possibility to include these complex linkages to climate change in South Africa’s air quality policy, the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act (Act No.39 of 2004) (the AQA), includes the use of local air quality management plans (AQMPs). The extent to which South African cities are currently incorporating climate change concerns into existing AQMPs and the opportunities for improved integration of these two issues was investigated using the eThekwini Municipality or the city of Durban as a case study. Climate change and air quality issues are currently dealt with separately in Durban, overlooking an opportunity to derive multiple benefits from integrative policies. This case study primarily focused on understanding the role that the AQMP could play in support of creating a low carbon resilient city through its influence on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Emission inventories focusing on both air pollutants and GHG emissions were developed for two of the areas for intervention prioritised in Durban’s AQMP, namely the road transportation and industrial sectors. The emissions inventories were used as a basis to explore air pollution interventions that are likely to result in trade-offs or synergies (or co-benefits) for GHG mitigation. For the industrial sector it was found that the implementation of industrial energy efficiency and fuel switching measures would be favourable for co-benefits. In the case of road transport, reducing the vehicle kilometres travelled by privately owned motor vehicles and improving the efficiency of road freight transport offers the greatest potential for achieving co-benefits. The case study further illustrates that in the short-to medium-term air quality management (AQM) planning may help to promote climate change awareness and action toward climate change mitigation through improved co-ordination of industrial, energy and transport plans. The introduction of voluntary programmes, municipal by-laws and or regulatory guidance from the AQA, that support strategies with co-benefits is critical to ensure that local AQMPs can be used to promote reductions or avoidance of GHG emissions. In the long-term, climate change impacts on meteorological factors that influence air quality also need to be considered in AQMPs so that the most effective interventions can be selected to support the local government’s climate change adaptation goals.