The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $60 million loan to the Mongolian government as the second part of a program to improve the air quality in Ulaanbaatar.
The loan of $160 million for the Ulaanbaatar Air Quality Improvement Program (Phase 2) was approved in December 2019, with the first tranche of $100 million released that month.
The release of the second $60 million was conditional on the Mongolian government fulfilling its obligations with the first $100 million.
The loan documents reveal that the money will go to a number of government ministries: Construction and Urban Development; Environment and Tourism; Energy; Finance; Health; UB city authorities; and the National Committee for the Reduction of Air Pollution.
The loan is repayable over 12 years.
The program aimed improve the efficiency of the government's National Program for Reducing Air and Environmental Pollution 2017–2025, and the government’s regulatory framework on air quality management.
Specifically, the program reviewed tariffs on electric heating in ger districts, researched ways to reduce indoor air pollution, conducted a gender assessment report, and proposed 'optimum heating solutions'.
“The government has demonstrated strong ownership and a sense of appreciation of the program benefits and the further work required to green the energy sector,” said ADB Environmental Economist Annabelle C. Giorgetti. “The second tranche follows sustainable long-term measures taken for clean heating supply and accompanying policy reforms.
"Many of the program reforms are entrenched in state legislation.”
There is also scientific evidence that people living in areas with higher levels of air pollution face a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and of experiencing more severe symptoms if they do contract the virus - meaning efforts to improve air quality are perhaps more urgent now than ever.
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