Sustainable development goals connect policies addressing air quality and energy efficiency with complementary benefits for climate mitigation. However, a typically fragmented approach across these domains hinders effectiveness in addressing short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs)—including methane, carbon monoxide, non-methane volatile organic compounds and black carbon—to supplement CO2 mitigation. Here, to support policy coordination in India, we assess climate co-benefits of air quality and clean energy policies, using multiple metrics (global warming and temperature change potentials). We estimate an emission reduction potential of −0.1 to −1.8 GtCO2e yr−1 in 2030. The largest benefits accrue from residential clean energy policy (biomass cooking) and air pollution regulation (curbing brick production and agricultural residue burning emissions), which cut black carbon. In the next 1–2 decades (using global warming potential—GWP20), emission reduction potentials of warming SLCFs exceed those of CO2, which is not evident on longer timescales. Concurrently, policies in the electricity generation and transport sectors reduce cooling SLCFs (SO2 and NOx), potentially unmasking 0.1–2.4 GtCO2e yr−1. Integrating these interventions into national climate policies can strengthen both climate action and sustainability. The crucial impact of black carbon suggests that it should be included in the international climate accord.


Tibrewal, K., & Venkataraman, C. (2020). Climate co-benefits of air quality and clean energy policy in India. Nature Sustainability.

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