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Integrated Assessment Methods Used for Optimized Air Pollution Mitigation in Europe

Harald Sverdrup
Chemical Engineering, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Jean Paul Hettelingh and Max Posch
National Environmental Assessment Centre, Bilthoven, Netherlands


This presentation gives an overview of the United Nations Economic Committee for Europe, Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution (UN/ECE-LRTAP) Program, also commonly known as the European critical loads program, and we explain the methods and tools used in the UNECE integrated assessments. The authors go on to show examples of how the outputs from the National critical loads programs are used as inputs to the integrated assessments models, dealing with acidic deposition (sulfur and nitrogen, eutrophying deposition (nitrogen), ozone and interacting gaseous pollutants, and airborne particles. In the process, a number of parameters are used: The target functions are ecosystem protection and human health protection, expressed as % of area affected above threshold and impacts on life expectancy and accumulated days of hospitalization. Other important parameters are cost effectiveness of measures, fair distribution among nations and synergies with ongoing industrial transitions and restructuring processes. Important tools in this process are the EMEP, RAINS, and GAINES models, as well as the coordinating work performed by the Dutch Ministry for health and environment (RIVM) and the International Institute for Systems Analysis (IIASA) at Laxenburg in Austria. These models are used in a soft-linked system to look for optimal emissions, physical effects and economic benefits. The complex scientific process by which the information is ultimately used to set emissions reductions goals and distribute them amongst the regions and nations of Europe is outlined.

The authors conclude that the process in Europe was one of great benefit to the participating nations, by preventing damaging pollution impacts, maximizing benefit and minimizing cost. By use of an adaptive managerial model for the effort, the process was adapted to increase environmental and public demands as well as it proved to be cost-efficient and politically supported by all participants. With the mitigation of air pollution in Europe, the experiences of RAINS in Asia, and the rise of air pollution as a global problem, the authors suggest that continuing the process to other continents would be beneficial for pollution mitigation.