Implementation of the GAINS-model for a greenhouse gas and air quality strategy for South Africa

Carmen Klausbruckner of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa, examined how well climate change and air pollution policies are integrated in South Africa.

Carmen Klausbruckner

Carmen Klausbruckner


South Africa produces the most greenhouse gases (GHG) in Africa and is also a significant emitter on a global scale. In 2009, the country committed itself to reducing its GHG emissions compared to a business as usual trajectory. Another pressing issue in South Africa is air pollution: indoor air pollution is estimated to cause around 3,000 premature deaths per year, and fires create significant air pollution across the country, affecting 200,000 South Africans.


Based on a qualitative text analysis of legal and policy documents, and a comprehensive literature review, contradictions among different policy approaches were identified. Criteria for a decision support tool were established and tested for the extent to which the Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model is consistent with these criteria.


South African climate change mitigation and air quality policies are not always coherent, and in fact can be partially contradictory. Climate change policies can also conflict with the country’s development priorities, poverty alleviation, and employment policy, mainly as a result of increased electricity prices. However, there is the potential for co-benefits between air pollution and climate change mitigation policies. For example, the control of GHG emissions usually also leads to a reduction in local or regional air pollutants.


An integration of GHG and air pollution policies is required. A common evidence-based, transparent decision support tool that takes into account economic and social factors is needed for the development of policy decisions. The GAINS model provides an evidence-based approach to investigating policy alternatives. It links GHG emissions and air pollution and can optimize cost, GHG emissions, or health impacts (measured in disability-adjusted life years). Implementation of the GAINS model would therefore assist South Africa in the development of GHG and air quality policies, and would be in line with the country’s overall development goals.


[1] Fund for Research into Industrial Development Growth and Equity (2004). Study to examine the potential socio-economic impact of measures to reduce air pollution from combustion.

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[3] Naiker Y., Diab R D, Zunckel M, & Hayes E T (2012) Introduction of local Air Quality Management in South Africa: overview and challenges. Environmental Science & Policy, 17, 62–71.

[4] Scenario building Team (2007). Long Term Mitigation Scenarios. Strategic Options for South Africa.

[5] Tait L & Winkler H (2012). Estimating greenhouse gas emissions associated with achieving universal access to electricity in South Africa.

[6] Thambiran T & Diab R D (2011). The case for integrated air quality and climate change policies. Environmental Science & Policy, 14(8), 1008–1017.

[7] Ürge-Vorsatz D & Tirado Herrero S (2012). Building synergies between climate change mitigation and energy poverty alleviation. Energy Policy, 49, 83–90.


Harold Annegarn, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa

Peter Rafaj, Mitigation of Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases Program, IIASA


Carmen Klausbruckner of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa, is a citizen of Austria and was funded by the IIASA Austrian National Member Organization during the SA-YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.   

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Last edited: 01 February 2016


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