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Preparing for the review of the Air Convention’s Gothenburg Protocol ahead of its entry into force

The revision of the Gothenburg Protocol in 2012 marked a milestone in the development of the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution as it resulted in the first binding agreement to include emission reduction commitments for fine particulate matter. Also for the first time, Parties broke new ground in international air pollution policy by specifically including the short-lived climate pollutant black carbon (or soot) as a component of particular matter. Reducing particulate matter (including black carbon) through the implementation of the Protocol is a major step in reducing air pollution, while at the same time facilitating climate and health co-benefits.

With the amended Gothenburg Protocol expected to enter into force later this year, a review of the protocol will be initiated soon after its entry into force. To prepare for this, the Task Force on Integrated Assessment Modelling (TFIAM) discussed this week (Berlin, 23-24 April 2019) whether the models used to support the negotiations of the protocol are fit for the review.

Participants exchanged national experiences on the effectiveness of different policy measures and presented ex-post assessments of air quality policies, which should also inform any upcoming review of the amended Gothenburg protocol. In this context, the interplay between measures taken on various geographical scales – the local, national and international – was further discussed. Participants emphasized the importance of the long-range transport of fine particulate pollution also for local air quality, which calls for multi-scale air quality management. Integrated assessment modelling can support decision-making on this issue and reveal the benefits from coordinated action. Vice versa, any assessment of the cost-effectiveness and benefits from local and national policies should include transboundary impacts on health and ecosystems.

In addition, as emissions from shipping and methane emissions have been identified as two important topics for further work under the Convention in the updated Long-term Strategy, Task Force participants also discussed global sectoral policies and reduction potentials.

Further discussions on the review of Gothenburg Protocol will be held during the fifty-seventh session of the Working Group on Strategies and Review (Geneva, 21-24 May 2019).