The New Zealand Government, at the highest levels, has become committed to being a leader in the global efforts to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There are many possibilities, but these most come with some cost to the economy and to individual citizens and companies. Whilst ‘zero-cost’ initiatives and policies are obviously favoured, some of the other options can also generate co-benefits. One of the more obvious is in reducing energy consumption – thereby reducing the demand for fossil fuel use in transport, industry, power stations, and to some extent in the domestic heating sector. Such reductions in consumption have their own obvious co-benefits: for example, consumers can lower their energy bills. There are other co-benefits as well. For instance, reducing the use of fossil fuels will also reduce the incidence of air pollution; this results in health benefits to the community and reduced costs in the health system.
The initiatives analysed in this study seek to simultaneously address climate change and air quality through reductions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and air pollutants, respectively. The co-benefit measures addressed in this report allow for a more cost-effective use of scarce natural, financial, technical and human resources.
Co-benefits strategies that integrate air quality management with climate change mitigation can result in effective and sustained approaches towards the improvement of air quality – on the local, national and global scales.
Any new policies implemented should address the underlying causes of air pollution as well as GHG emissions.