The impact of European legislative and technology measures to reduce air pollutants on air quality, human health and climate.
Haywood, James M.
Richardson, , TB
Environmental Research Letters
European air quality legislation has reduced emissions of air pollutants across Europe since the 1970s, affecting air quality, human health and regional climate. We used a coupled composition-climate model to simulate the impacts of European air quality legislation and technology measures implemented between 1970 and 2010. We contrast simulations using two emission scenarios; one with actual emissions in 2010 and the other with emissions that would have occurred in 2010 in the absence of technological improvements and end-of-pipe treatment measures in the energy, industrial and road transport sectors. European emissions of sulphur dioxide, black carbon ( BC ) and organic carbon in 2010 are 53%, 59% and 32% lower respectively compared to emissions that would have occurred in 2010 in the absence of legislative and technology measures. These emission reductions decreased simulated European annual mean concentrations of fi ne particulate matter ( PM 2.5 ) by 35%, sulphate by 44%, BC by 56% and particulate organic matter by 23%. The reduction in PM 2.5 concentrations is calculated to have prevented 80 000 ( 37 000 – 116 000, at 95% con fi dence intervals ) premature deaths annually across the European Union, resulting in a perceived fi nancial bene fi tto society of US$232 billion annually ( 1.4% of 2010 EU GDP ) . The reduction in aerosol concentrations due to legislative and technology measures caused a positive change in the aerosol radiative effect at the top of atmosphere, reduced atmospheric absorption and also increased the amount of solar radiation incident at the surface over Europe. We used an energy budget approximation to estimate that these changes in the radiative balance have increased European annual mean surface temperatures and precipitation by 0.45 ± 0.11 ° C and by 13 ± 0.8 mm yr − 1 respectively. Our results show that the implementation of European legislation and technological improvements to reduce the emission of air pollutants has improved air quality and human health over Europe, as well as having an unintended impact on the regional radiative balance and climate.
Steven Turnock would like to thank the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Met Office for providing the funding for this PhD studentship. This work was also made possible by participation in the EU Framework 7 PEGASOS project (no: 265148). We acknowledge the use of the MONSooN system, a collaborative facility supplied under the Joint Weather and Climate Research Programme, a strategic partnership between the Met Office and NERC. We would like to acknowledge the use of the EDGAR anthropogenic emissions inventory and the scenarios used in this study provided by the Joint Research Centre, Italy. Edward Butt is funded by the United Bank of Carbon.
This is the final version of the article. Available from IOP via the DOI in this record.
Vol 11: 024010