The Necessity to Account for Air Quality in Climate Change Strategies in Africa

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Diallo, Sokhna Mbathio
Seck, Abdoulaye
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African Economic Research Consortium
The process of economic development and urbanization is Sub-Saharan Africa is accompanied with worsening air quality in urban cities. Most of the time (90%) during a typical year, concentration of particle matters remain above the WHO thresholds, as a result of emissions from cooking energy (biomass), industries, and transport. These high pollution levels lead to relatively high costs to the society and the economy, in the forms of health burden from respiratory illnesses and premature deaths on one hand, resource misallocation, reduction in effective labor supply, and growth drag on the other hand. These adverse effects of air pollution are exacerbated by climate change or global warming. For instance, there is a high correlation between ozone concentration and temperature in regions with high air pollution levels. In addition, the number of pollution-related deaths is significantly larger in the context of increased temperatures. With the general aim of realizing sustainable development, which requires a reconciliation between economic, environmental and social processes, mechanisms underlying economically-generated air pollution need to be accounted for in the broad strategy to combat climate change and its adverse impacts on the economy and the society. Understanding individuals’ awareness of and attitude towards air pollution and its various economic and health consequences on one hand, and the extent to which air quality enter their preference and valuation scheme, on the other hand, have the potential to garner collective support to climate change policies. As a result, the latter will benefit from greater legitimacy and more involvement of the general public, leading to more effectiveness in, for instance, improving air quality.