Since 2001, BAQ workshops have brought together a growing number of policy makers and stakeholders to discuss how to improve air quality management in Asian cities.

This was the fifth BAQ workshop that CAI-Asia had organized with the active support and contribution of its local partners in the different host countries as well as the Asian Development Bank and a range of other supporting and private sector organizations.

‘’’Pre-Events were held on the 9th, 10th and 11th November. While most of these events dealt with outdoor air pollution in the cities, one event was devoted to Home Cooking and Heating. On 11th November a full day event was organized by Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA). The event name was ‘Monitoring the Co-Benefits of Reducing Emissions from Home Cooking and Heating.’’’

The purpose of the pre-event was to present the preliminary findings and methods used for monitoring the multiple benefits - health, socio-economic, and environmental – of reducing emissions from burning coal and biomass fuels for home cooking and heating practices in Asia. There were many participants some of whom made presentations of their work. During the pre-event John Mitchell of PCIA assigned us all a common task. The task was to network with the other participants during the main event (BAQ2008) who were primarily working on outdoor air pollution related subjects and spread the message of the importance of indoor air pollution and its impact on health and environment etc. The intention was to make the stakeholders aware that indoor air quality (IAQ) is as big a problem as outdoor air quality. And I think all of us who are working on IAQ related issues were successful in this venture since IAP was mentioned in the key messages as an important health concern and there was an urgent need to develop IAQ guidelines.

The main BAQ workshop was attended by 900 attendees from 43 countries (270 from Thailand, 390 from other Asia, 80 from Europe, 60 from North America and 100 others)

This year’s theme was Air Quality and Climate Change: scaling up win-win solutions for Asia.The following responses were sought in the workshop.

  • An assessment of the “science” behind the co-benefits approach;
  • An evaluation of where the various “stakeholders” stand with respect to acknowledging and integrating the co-benefit approach in policies, programs and investment decisions;
  • Key actions for the various stakeholders to ensure a substantive scaling up of the co-benefit approach in Asia.

The discussions in BAQ 2008 were intended to help generate a consensus on how Asian cities can take a more active part in climate change mitigation by adopting a co-benefits approach, which integrates urban air quality management activities, energy management and climate change mitigation activities.

Although these were the main themes of the BAQ workshop, Indoor Air Pollution was also an important agenda in the workshop One Sub Plenary and two sub workshops were devoted to Household Energy and Indoor Air Pollution. They were as follows: ‘’’
  • Sub-Plenary: “Successful Strategies for Reducing Indoor Air Pollution from Household Energy Use” – presentations showed ‘’how improved household energy programs in Asia are contributing to achieving the Millennium Development Goals to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, eradicate poverty, promote gender equality, and ensure environmental sustainability. ‘’
  • Sub Workshop: “Scaling-Up and the Multiple Benefits of Adopting Improved Cooking and Heating Technology.” –Presentations discussed how programs are successfully scaling up the adoption of clean, affordable, efficient, and safe home cooking/heating practices that reduce people’s exposure to indoor air pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve family health, economics and quality of life.’’
  • Sub Workshop: “Assessing Health, Socioeconomic and Environmental Impacts of Improved Stoves and Fuels” – Presentations discussed methodology, challenges, and results of monitoring the impact of clean and efficient stoves and fuels on indoor air pollution levels, greenhouse gas emissions, fuel use and costs, and time spent on fuel collection and cooking.

On the final day of the BAQ 2008, an Assessment of the Science Behind the Co-Benefits Approach at the end of the workshop showed that the Stakeholders are just beginning to acknowledge the significance of the co-benefits approach. Studies evaluating strategies to reduce both air pollutants and Green House Gases (GHG’s) have demonstrated benefits outweighing costs. Air quality and climate change issues are linked. Reducing emissions of many pollutants will likely result in a reduction of GHG’s. But there is a scale issue: air pollutants have local/urban significance while GHG reduction is more of a national/global issue.

Key Messages from The BAQ 2008,
  • In spite of improved fuels and technologies, increasing activity levels limit the benefits.
  • Regional/sub-regional collaboration needs to be enhanced.
  • Sustainable development plans for cities can serve as the basis for a national commitment.
  • Public and private sector participation and awareness speeds the development and implementation of effective integrated strategies.
  • Use of voluntary agreements (e.g. negotiated between agencies and industry) can improve air quality and reduce GHG emissions.
  • Learn from the mistakes as well as the successes.
  • There is an awareness that we need to consider air pollutant/climate change interactions. Our understanding of this linkage is limited.
  • There is a need to unify regional and global air quality and climate change modeling efforts.
  • Tools coupling air pollution and GHG impacts are becoming available.
  • When developing inventories both traditional air pollutants and GHG emissions should be included.
  • Indoor exposure has a greater impact on health than ambient exposure. Indoor air quality guidelines need to be developed
  • As part of a co-benefits analysis, there is a need to consider food security (i.e. production and use) and the impact of increasing temperature on human health.
  • Dose-response functions appear to be the same everywhere.
  • The first formal report of the key findings from the World Energy Outlook was presented at BAQ.
  • Increasing the efficiency of combustion processes will reduce emissions of the criteria pollutants and black carbon (BC) providing a triple win (energy-air quality-climate).

But the subjects that were not mentioned or there was a limited discussion are:
  • Future vs. present oriented - Limited discussion of how technology transfer and delivery might occur.
  • There is a critical need to validate emissions estimates and model predictions using real-world observations.
  • The co-benefits of improving indoor air needs to be further developed.

Finally BAQ 2008 communicated the concept that integrating air quality and climate change management provides a win-win solution and provides participants with:
  • Rationale for implementing a co-benefits approach
  • Science behind co-benefits
  • Potential implementation strategies
  • Network of people and programs to aid in moving forward