Southeast Asia’s environment, health and climate ministers will gather in the Philippines next week for a high-level roundtable discussion on clean air, health and climate change.

Happening on July 24-25 at The Peninsula Manila, the ASEAN Ministerial Roundtable Discussion on Clean Air, Health and Climate is co-hosted by the Philippine government—through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—together with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition of the United Nations.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the roundtable meeting will provide “a platform for an interactive discussion, in a high-level setup, on the opportunities and challenges of coming up with a regional approach to air pollution and climate change.”

The two-day event, he said, will also bring together experts and scientists in the ASEAN region and beyond to share local initiatives and insights toward global climate action, clean air and health that can simultaneously meet the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) of each country.

During the event, ASEAN member-countries will be called upon to respond collectively to the Special Report on Global Warming 1.5°C published by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018.

The report emphasized the need for early action on all climate forcing emissions, including short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) as part of the pathway to stay well below 2°C as agreed by the parties to the Paris accord.

In terms of air pollution and its effect on public health and development which many of the ASEAN countries still experience as a challenge, the “Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-Based Solutions” report identified 25 clean air measures which if implemented across the region would result in 1 billion people enjoying clean air at the strictest ambient standards of the World Health Organization by 2030.

Further, this would also deliver 0.3°C reduced global warming relative to 2015 – reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 19 percent, methane by 44 percent, and black carbon by 77 percent by 2040-2050.

The event will commence in the morning of July 24 with the ASEAN Ministers Roundtable Discussion to be led by Secretary Cimatu, Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman of the Climate Change Commission.

A Senior Officials Workshop will proceed in the afternoon until the following day. It is comprised of four sessions marked with several presentations dealing with scientific studies and findings on the link between air pollution and climate change, clean air measures for Asia and the Pacific, benefits and tools for integrated action and SLCP mitigation, and initiatives on enhancing NDCs from select ASEAN member-states.

Outputs and results arising from the initial discussion are expected to prepare the region to collectively bring forth commitments and potential options to upscale climate actions during the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York and in the 15th ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting, both in September this year.

The discussion is likewise expected to serve as an impetus for greater action and ambition on air pollution, health and climate that could significantly contribute to the High-Level Officials Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment. #