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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Post-2015 Consensus: Air Pollution Viewpoint, Clean Air Asia

Viewpoint Paper

Patdu et al commend Larsen’s paper and his conclusion about the importance of tackling indoor pollution, but note that the analysis assessed only a limited set of measures to abate ambient air pollution. Moreover a simple cost-benefit analysis may not present a holistic picture. It is suggested that for decision-makers to be well-informed in prioritizing policies or measures, more information such as ‘do-nothing’ versus ‘intervention’ scenarios and co-benefits (e.g. climate change mitigation, agricultural effects) are factored in. As the paper shows that ambient and indoor air pollution are interrelated, maximum health impacts can be achieved by addressing both.

Some specific comments on the paper are offered. Firstly, it may useful for a cost-benefit analysis to look at the opportunity cost (on health effects) if no interventions to improve air quality are made. Secondly, in order to provide a more accurate analysis, co-benefits need to be factored in the equation. For example, reducing sulfur in diesel fuel would lead not only to reducing particulate matter emissions but also ambient sulfur dioxide (SO2). A more accurate cost-benefit analysis would include a consideration of co-benefits with respect to climate change mitigation, black carbon reduction and other development aspects to provide a more complete picture for decision-makers.