Policy Applications

IIASA's AIR team uses advanced systems analysis to inform key policy processes and international negotiations on clean air and greenhouse gas mitigation. The multi-pollutant/multi-effect concept of the GAINS model and its predecessor, the RAINS model, has shaped the approach for advanced clean air and climate policies around the world.

The GAINS methodology identifies cost-effective portfolios of specific measures that improve local air quality and, at the same time, reduce global climate change. This approach, which focuses on actions that yield co-benefits at different spatial and temporal scales, provides a fresh perspective to clean air and climate policy development in many countries and world regions.

In particular, IIASA is contributing to the following policy processes:

Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP)

Since the mid 1980s, methodologies and modeling tools developed by IIASA have been applied as the analytical backbone for the negotiations on a series of protocols under the LRTAP Convention. The GAINS model and its predecessor, the RAINS model, provided the negotiators with an integrated perspective of the scientific knowledge that emerged from the scientific working groups and task forces of the LRTAP Convention.

In 1999, the Convention officially assigned IIASA as its 'Centre for Integrated Assessment Modelling' (CIAM), to provide continuous input to negotiations about cost-effective emission control strategies. All scientific reports produced by CIAM are regularly reviewed by the 'Task Force on Integrated Assessment Modelling' (TFIAM). 

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European Union (EU)

In 1995, the European Union adopted a more integrated approach for developing its air quality  legislation, following the multi-pollutant/multi-effect concept of IIASA's RAINS and GAINS models. Since then, the European Commission derives their quantitative proposals for air and climate policies from cost-effectiveness analyses with IIASA's GAINS and RAINS models that balance emission reduction measures across different pollutants, economic sectors and Member States. 

For this purpose, IIASA is coordinating the European Consortium for the Modelling of Air and Climate Strategies (EC4MACS), which brings together the expertise and tools of 10 leading institutions that provide scientific analyses on relevant developments in a wide range of economic sectors.

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Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)

In the '“Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone” of UNEP and WMO, IIASA identified 16 practical measures that would improve human health, secure crop yields and, at the same time, reduce global temperature increase in the near-term by up to 0.5 degrees.

To initiate concrete action on these measures, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton launched a 'Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants' in February 2012,  complementing efforts on CO2 emissions taken by countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. By July 2012, the Coalition was joined by 18 countries and nine non-state partners.

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UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

In the 2009 run-up for the COP15 Copenhagen Climate conference, the 'comparability of efforts' between Parties became an important topic in the UNFCCC negotiations on a new international climate agreement. To provide an impartial scientific assessment of efforts that are implied by various negotiation offers (pledges) of Parties, IIASA extended its GAINS model to assess mitigation costs for the six Kyoto greenhouse gases in all industrialized (Annex I) countries and estimate their co-benefits on air quality. An interactive tool that enables a fast comparison of pledges has been developed and is available at this web site.

While actual negotiations did not reach a state where the comparability of mitigation efforts would become a critical issue, IIASA continued contributing to UNEP analyses of the emission gaps between pledges offered by Parties and the requirements for temperature stabilization.

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Arctic Council

The Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, addresses inter alia critical issues of the Arctic environment and climate change.

IIASA is regularly participating in scientific working groups and task forces of the Arctic Council and contributing to their reports. In February 2012, IIASA hosted a meeting of senior advisors and ministerial staff involved in the Arctic Council Task Force on Short-Lived Climate Forcers to prepare for the next assessment of policy options to reduce black carbon and methane emissions in the Arctic region.

The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED)

IIASA and its research partners in China, i.e., Tsinghua University and the Energy Research Institute, provide input to the development of air pollution policies in China. Inter alia, Tsinghua University and IIASA cooperate in a recent project for the CCICED to develop policy recommendations to the Chinese government on a new approach for more efficient clean air policies. Inter alia, the report calls for an effect-based rationale for setting air quality and emission reduction targets. Read more ... 

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Last edited: 07 April 2016


Markus Amann

Program Director

Air Quality and Greenhouse Gases

T +43(0) 2236 807 432

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313