6.6 Co-benefits of GHG mitigation in the residential and commercial sectors
Co-benefits of mitigation policies should be an important decision element for decision-makers in both the residential and commercial sectors. Although these co-benefits are often not quantified, monetized, or perhaps even identified by the decision-makers or economic modellers (Jochem and Madlener, 2003), they can still play a crucial role in making GHG emissions mitigation a higher priority. This is especially true in less economically advanced countries, where environmentalism – and climate change specifically – may not have a strong tradition or a priority role in either the policy agenda or the daily concerns of citizens. In these circumstances, every opportunity for policy integration can be of value in order to reach climate change mitigation goals.
6.6.1 Reduction in local/regional air pollution
Climate mitigation through energy efficiency in the residential and commercial sectors will improve local and regional air quality, particularly in large cities, contributing to improved public health (e.g., increased life expectancy, reduced emergency room visits, reduced asthma attacks, fewer lost working days) and avoidance of structural damage to buildings and public works. As an example in China, replacement of residential coal burning by large boiler houses providing district heating is among the abatement options providing the largest net benefit per tonne of CO2 reduction, when the health benefits from improved ambient air conditions are accounted for (Mestl et al., 2005). A study in Greece (Mirasgedis et al., 2004) found that the economic GHG emissions abatement potential in the residential sector could be increased by almost 80% if the co-benefits from improved air quality are taken into account. Beyond the general synergies between improved air quality and climate change mitigation described in Chapter 11 (see Section 11.8.1), some of the most important co-benefits in the households of developing countries are due to reduced indoor air pollution through certain mitigation measures, discussed in sections 6.6.2 and 6.1.1.