Forty years of improvements in European air quality: regional policy-industry interactions with global impacts

Abstract : The EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research) v4.3 global anthropogenic emissions inventory of several gaseous (SO2, NOx, CO, non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and NH3) and particulate (PM10, PM2.5, black and organic carbon (BC and OC)) air pollutants for the period 1970–2010 is used to develop retrospective air pollution emission scenarios to quantify the roles and contributions of changes in fuels consumption, technology, end-of-pipe emission reduction measures and their resulting impact on health and crop yields. This database presents changes in activity data, fuels and air pollution abatement technology for the past 4 decades, using international statistics and following guidelines for bottom-up emission inventory at the Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels with region-specific default values. With two further retrospective scenarios we assess (1) the impact of the technology and end-of-pipe (EOP) reduction measures in the European Union (EU) by considering a stagnation of technology with constant emission factors from 1970 and with no further abatement measures and improvement in European emissions standards, but fuel consumption occurring at historical pace, and (2) the impact of increased fuel consumption by considering unchanged energy use with constant fuel consumption since 1970, but technological development and end-of-pipe reductions. Our scenario analysis focuses on the three most important and most regulated sectors (power generation, the manufacturing industry and road transport), which are subject of multi-pollutant EU Air Quality regulations. If technology and European EOP reduction measures had stagnated at 1970 levels, EU air quality in 2010 would have suffered from 129 % higher SO2, 71 % higher NOx and 69 % higher PM2.5 emissions, demonstrating the large role of technology in reducing emissions in 2010. However, if fuel consumption had remained constant starting in 1970, the EU would have benefited from current technology and emission control standards, with reductions in NOx by even 13 % more. Such further savings are not observed for SO2 and PM2.5. If the EU consumed the same amount of fuels as in 1970 but with the current technology and emission control standards, then the emissions of SO2 and PM2.5 would be 42 % respectively 10 % higher. This scenario shows the importance for air quality of abandoning heavy residual fuel oil and shifting fuel types (from, e.g., coal to gas) in the EU. A reduced-form TM5-FASST (Fast Screening Scenario Tool based on the global chemical Transport Model 5) is applied to calculate regional and global levels of aerosol and ozone concentrations and to assess the impact of air quality improvements on human health and crop yield loss, showing substantial impacts of export of EU technologies and standards to other world regions.
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Monica Crippa, Greet Janssens-Maenhout, Frank Dentener, Diego Guizzardi, Katerina Sindelarova, et al.. Forty years of improvements in European air quality: regional policy-industry interactions with global impacts. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, European Geosciences Union, 2016, 16 (6), pp.3825-3841. ⟨10.5194/acp-16-3825-2016⟩. ⟨insu-01180292⟩

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