Mitigating Air Pollution: IASS is New Lead Partner of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Brick Kiln Initiative

The IASS’s status in the initiative “Mitigating Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) and Other Pollutants from Brick Production” of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) has been upgraded to the level of a Lead Partner. The CCAC is an international effort to maximize the health, agricultural and climate benefits of swift action on short-lived climate pollutants (SCLPs). These are agents that have a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere – a few days to a few decades – and a warming influence on the climate. The main short lived climate pollutants are black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone, which are the most important contributors to the human enhancement of the global greenhouse effect after CO2.

“We are very pleased now to be a Lead Partner of the CCAC Brick Kiln Initiative. Brick kilns are one of the major sources of the terrible air pollution that blankets Southern Asia and other parts of the world. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are technologies for making bricks in a much cleaner fashion, and the CCAC is working actively on these”, stated IASS Scientific Director Professor Mark Lawrence.

The IASS research cluster Sustainable Interactions with the Atmosphere (SIWA), headed by Lawrence, launched its research project SusKat on the brick production sector in Southern Asia in 2012. It focuses on the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, where brick kilns are one of the main sources of air pollution, as in many other countries of Southern Asia. SusKat aims not only to gain a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of air pollution, but in a second step to transcend science by supporting the local implementation of mitigation measures.

In its activities in Kathmandu, the IASS has teamed up with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the Federation of Nepalese Brick Industries (FNBI), and the Central Department of Physics at Tribhuvan University, Nepal, to carry out a survey of more than seventy per cent of all brick factories in the Kathmandu Valley. The aim of the survey was to collect information on the energy performance as well as the environmental and socio-economic effects of individual brick factories. So far, the survey has not only provided fuel-use data that help to estimate emissions from the brick factories in the Kathmandu Valley – a major pollution source there – but has also documented the problems faced by the factory owners.

Additionally, as part of the SusKat project an atmospheric modelling exercise is being conducted that seeks to understand the role of various air pollutants, such as black carbon, and pollution sources, among them the brick production sector, including brick factories in the Kathmandu Valley. This exercise will provide a better understanding of the role of brick factories in the Valley and in other parts of Nepal and will ultimately be crucial to designing both effective and feasible mitigation measures.

In its new role as Lead Partner in the initiative “Mitigating Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) and Other Pollutants from Brick Production”, the IASS will focus on sharing its regional expertise in Southern Asia and in the brick production sector. The initiative addresses emissions of black carbon and other pollutants from brick production with a view to reducing the harmful climate, air pollution, economic, and social effects of this sector. The IASS covers the full range of pollutants highlighted by the CCAC, with a special focus on tropospheric ozone and black carbon. The institute has been an active member of the coalition for almost two years.

Since its launch in February 2012 by the governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the United States, along with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Climate and Clean Air Coalition has grown from seven to over ninety partners, half of which are governments and the other half inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations. The CCAC is a global voluntary movement where each partner individually determines the nature of its participation. Its constitutive document, the Coalition Framework, does not create any legally binding obligations between or among the Coalition Partners. The CCAC’s objectives are to address SLCPs, for example by raising awareness of SLCP impacts and mitigation strategies, and by undertaking fast and scaled-up action to ensure the reduction of emissions from SLCPs under an initial tranche of ten initiatives. Most of these initiatives are intended to reduce emissions in specific sectors. Yet there are also three cross-cutting initiatives that address the financing of SLCP mitigation, the promotion of National Action Plans on SLCPS, and the carrying out of regional assessments of SLCPs.

Photo: © Maheswar Rupakheti