03 Jul 2024, 13:21
Jack McGovan

EU Emissions Trading System reduces air pollution – report

Clean Energy Wire / Spiegel

The European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) has reduced the emission of hazardous air pollutants like sulphur dioxide, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides, according to a report published in the journal PNAS. “The EU ETS has already amply proven that it is doing its job as Europe’s central climate protection instrument by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Jonas Grunau, one of the report authors. By looking at levels of air pollutants, Grunau and his colleagues from the Cluster of Excellence Climate, Climatic Change, and Society at the University of Hamburg wanted to determine the indirect effects of the EU ETS. Their results showed a reduction of 39 percent of sulphur oxide, 28 percent of particulate matter, and 14 percent of nitrogen oxides in comparison to a scenario without emissions trading, reports Spiegel.

To arrive at the results, the research team analysed how the amount of air pollutants have changed in the EU since trading was implemented in 2005 up to 2021. They compared regulated sectors like the energy industry and unregulated sectors. The researchers found that the reduction in air pollution has led to health benefits that have saved more than 100 billion euros. The EU ETS sets a price per tonne for the emission of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide when burning fossil fuels in order to make fossil fuels less attractive as a fuel and incentivise investments in climate-friendly alternatives. So far, only certain sections of the economy are ruled by the EU ETS, such as power stations and heavy industry. Petrol stations and providers of gas and oil for heating are set to be integrated into the trading scheme from 2027.

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