ICIMOD Developing Better Tools for Analyzing Air Pollution

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Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD

Technology for analyzing and addressing air pollution is evolving. New tools are currently in development that can collect better data on air quality, and lead to more effective mitigation strategies.

The Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning System Incorporating the Integrated Benefits Calculator—or LEAP-IBC, for short—is one such tool. In November 2016, ICIMOD held a three day training for 15 individuals to help build their skills in using this state-of-the-art technology.

LEAP-IBC is being used in Nepal specifically to develop an emission inventory of short-lived climate pollutants, or SLCPs. Training attendees were given a short overview on LEAP-IBC and its many potential benefits for developing improved emissions mitigation plans at the national level.

As part of its ongoing Atmosphere Initiative to improve air quality in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), ICIMOD, in collaboration with SEI (Stockholm Environment Institute), organized the training from 17-19 November 2016. 

“The LEAP-IBC tool is the first of its kind in Nepal, and [we expect] participants to be able to not only estimate the current and future emissions inventories of SLCPs for Nepal but also to plan and determine the likely health, crop, and climate benefits of implementing SLCP mitigation measures under different mitigation policy scenarios. Informed decision making will be improved,” said Bikash Sharma, a senior environmental economist at ICIMOD. 

LEAP-IBC was developed with support from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CACC) under its Supporting National Action and Planning (SNAP) Initiative to help countries develop emission scenarios for key sectors, and identify the most cost-effective SLCP mitigation measures. 

Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD

Participants listened to preliminary LEAP-IBC use reports, as presenters demonstrated the tool’s versatility in identifying and tracking emissions from various sectors in Nepal. These results showed huge potential for reducing pollution in the medium term (by 2030). The largest gains of pollution reduction projected for the medium term were from the household and transport sectors which. By implementing readily available technologies, these sectors could net an estimated 130 billion Nepali rupees when translated for equivalence in terms of avoided loss of lives and crops. 

Ensuring national ownership of this data is a high priority for the project. Plans are in the works to present these findings at higher levels of the Nepali government. It is hoped these presentations will bring together senior officials from relevant ministries (e.g., Population and Environment, Forestry, Agriculture, Transport, Energy, and Industry) to bring the proposed mitigation policy strategies in line with the national planning targets for reducing SLCP emissions. 

“For the first time in Nepal, the application of this tool will provide meaningful insights into evidence-based policy. This will perhaps be an essential first step towards creating and enabling a supportive environment for the successful implementation of ongoing mitigation action plans in Nepal,” said Sharma.