Industrial emissions contribute to a weighty share of air pollution all over the world. In her article, Dr Ana Grossinho explores the global economies and global responsibilities to reduce industrial emissions.
Figure 1 (EEA, 2017) depicts the situation in the European Union (EU), where industrial processes and product use add significantly to the total emissions of Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds (NMVOCs), and Particulate Matter (mainly PM10) (46.79% and 32.47% respectively), and to total emissions of Sulphur Oxides (SOx), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) associated with energy use in industry (20.04%, 12.43%, and 12,00% respectively).
Figure 1: Emissions of the main air pollutants by sector group in the EEA-33 (EEA, 2017)
Different sectors and processes contribute with different shares of the total emissions and differentiated action to achieve required reductions is needed. To manage emissions in a specific and tailored way, the EU Industrial Emission directive (IED 2010/75/EU on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control)) prescribes an integrated approach including better design and energy efficiency requirements, and a better application of Best Available Techniques (BAT). This is defined by sector and process by exchange of information with experts from Member States, industry and environmental organisations. This process has several benefits to air quality across Europe due its participative and engaging nature, flexibility, and, above all, the setting of EU wide emission limit values for selected pollutants for key polluting activities.
Air quality management in the EU started in a systematic way over 30 years ago, with a series of legal instruments and policies evolving to achieve a suitable level of protection for human health and ecosystems. The main instruments included a series of Directives setting ambient air quality standards with the first Air Quality Framework Directive 96/62/EC and its daughter Directives, in force in the period up to 2008. Since 2008 a single Ambient Air Quality Directive, 2008/50/EC, together with the fourth daughter Directive 2004/107/EC, have been providing the framework for the control of ambient concentrations of air pollution in the EU.
“air quality management in the EU started in a systematic way over 30 years ago, with a series of legal instruments and policies”
The setting of air quality standards together with the control of emissions from key sources, improving fuel quality and promoting and integrating environmental protection requirements into the transport and energy sectors have been reducing air pollutant emissions into the atmosphere over the last decades in Europe (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Progress made towards reducing emissions of the main air pollutants across the EU (EEA, 2017)
As Figure 2 depicts, in the EU, tangible air pollutant reductions have been observed over the last 20 years, mainly due to common implemented instruments and policy to improve air quality. Whereas much work is still required to achieve compliance with established pollutant limit values, significant reductions have been successfully achieved.
From the analysis undertaken in the paragraphs above, an important question is posed. What lessons and experience from the EU can be shared with areas of the globe that need to solve air quality problems?
Global economies and air quality
In current global economies, consumers purchase and use products that are manufactured in a variety of locations around the globe. This means that, regardless of the level of stringency of ambient air concentration standards, air pollutant emission limits, and efficiency of enforcement at location of production, the destination and usage of products, for a clear majority of cases, is elsewhere in the world. This is true to some degree for all nations, but has more important repercussions on developing economies in terms of air quality.
“what lessons and experience from the EU can be shared with areas of the globe that need to solve air quality problems?”
Countries with a very rapid economic growth (e.g. India) have consistently less well organised and integrated air quality management systems. In these geographies, air pollutant emissions are poorly monitored and controlled, and the enforcement of ambient air limit values is either not required or inefficiently undertaken, leading to people being exposed to extremely hazardous levels of ambient air pollution.
Global responsibilities to improve air quality
During one of my last visits to India, a local friend offered me a beautiful gift, made in India. Given the beauty and perfection of the item, I decided to purchase few replicas as gifts for back home. As an air quality specialist, I realised I was bringing these items away from India, but was leaving behind the cost of pollution associated with their manufacturing.
The ‘polluter pays’ principle is the generally accepted practice which requires those who produce pollution to cover the costs of managing it with the objective of preventing damage to human health or the environment. Whereas this instrument can be used as an incentive to reduce air pollutant emissions, it is not applied in many cases and needs to be complemented by a consumer’s final tax so that global economies impart global responsibilities as part of the global internalisation of costs of air pollution.
When the most polluted cities of the world make headline news with high pollution episodes, if readers were polled to ascertain their willingness to pay an additional percentage (e.g. 5% of the total price of the item) to contribute to alleviation of pollution levels at these locations, the odds of having a massive acceptance would be impressive.
A model to reduce industrial emissions
Based on the EU experience in air quality management, valuable lessons can be extracted to benefit other parts of the world. As part of the EU funded project to enable the drafting of a national air quality strategy and local action plans in India (www.EU-India- Air.com), a mechanism to develop a national fund for air quality management was discussed. This concept makes use of several established instruments in Europe to cap emissions and includes legislative instruments and technical guidance, technical working groups (TWGs), cost-benefit analysis, and total emission calculation per industrial process/product manufactured for damage cost calculations.
The calculated final damage cost to society to be paid to government (central and or local) is calculated based on a cost per tonne of pollutant emissions, having taken into account pollutant, source type and location, and this includes impacts on human health and ecosystems associated with the total final emissions of each industrial process, after mitigation benefits are deducted.
“based on the EU experience in air quality management, valuable lessons can be extracted to benefit other parts of the world”
Figure 3 presents the flow chart summarising the steps of the model to reduce industrial emissions. The final value to be apportioned to the entities required to contribute to the agreement (named as the Global S106 Agreement1) is calculated using a simple excel tool embedding information for each pollutant, region/industry location, sector of activity/process/product manufactured, and total tonnes of pollutant emissions per year. The work takes account of the EU GAINS model2 and expertise in cost benefit analysis. In the following section each step is described in turn, addressing the impacts on human health.
In the initial phase of the model employment, there is a need to make sure BATs have been selected and implemented, tailored to each industry/manufacturing process. The first step is therefore the drafting of BAT Reference Documents (BREFs) with the BAT conclusions adopted by the government as national regulations and used as a reference for setting permit conditions.
To facilitate a consistent and common basis across participating countries, alignment with EU IED is recommended, so that common emission limit values for selected pollutants can be applied and mandatory requirements on environmental inspections consistently enforced. In specific cases, due to the geographical location, or the local environmental conditions, or the technical characteristics of the installation, assessments can show that achieving the emission levels associated with BAT described in the BAT conclusions would lead to disproportionately higher costs compared to the environmental benefits. In these specific cases, competent authorities are to be able to set less stringent emission limits, subject to a detailed and sound justification being provided. The work is to be undertaken via technical working groups including experts from participating countries, industry and environmental organisations and the BREF documents to be published on-line for easy access and reference.
“once BATs are in place and associated guidance available, industries should be operating in an optimised way”
Once BATs are in place and associated guidance available, industries should be operating in an optimised way, keeping air pollutant emissions minimised to the maximum possible extent
Development and establishment of an international Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (I-PRTR) with emission data reported by participating countries made accessible in a public register. Alike standard practice in the EU, these databases will provide environmental information on major industrial activities and allow a transparent interchange of information on key industrial emissions. This step is not essential for the application of the model described herein, but increases transparency and accountability.
Mapping of air pollution areas of exceedance using a combination of modelling, and monitoring, including, if necessary, simpler empirical tools. The national mapping of ambient air concentrations for the pollutants of concern is required, with local hotspots modelled using advanced dispersion modelling tools to ascertain areas of noncompliance. The concentrations are then converted into an estimate of public exposure.
Undertaking of source apportionment studies. Where areas of exceedance of pollutant limit values are identified, source apportionment studies are to be undertaken so that key sources contributing to the elevated levels observed are identified and shares of emissions quantified.
Worst case sensitive receptors (e.g. residential buildings, schools, hospitals, and care homes) should be selected in each area of exceedance and source apportionment studies completed for each receptor to determine the influence of each source type and the pollutant emission reduction required to achieve the respective annual mean limit value.
Calculation of accurate emission reduction requirements to achieve compliance with limit values for each pollutant of concern. To calculate how much emission reduction is required, the difference between the limit value for the pollutant(s) of concern and its concentration in ambient air at the worst-case receptor(s) within each area under scrutiny is required, indicating the degree of improvement in air quality that would be needed to meet the ambient air quality legislated limit values and safeguard human health. The level of reduction required in emissions is then translated into damage cost values.
Calculation of damage cost value per industrial unit (point of emission), per pollutant, per geographical location. The impact pathway approach (I-PA) is the recommended approach to value changes in air quality. This approach estimates the consequences of changes in the ambient concentrations of air pollutants for a range of health and environmental outcomes and is illustrated in Figure 4 for PM (adapted Defra, 2015).
Figure 4: Impact-pathway approach to calculate damage cost for PM3
As the full I-PA modelling is usually relatively resource and time intensive, to speed up decision making, damage costs per tonne of emissions are usually derived and used in damage cost calculations, resulting from full I-PA analysis.
The impact on emissions should be estimated based on the amount of raw material used or processed at that source. The relationship between the raw material used and the pollution produced is known as the ‘emissions factor’. Estimates of emissions factors for different activities need to be available so that total emissions per process can be estimated. The total damage cost calculated per source is then used to derive the share for the polluter pay principle application and complementing end user tax.
Application of the polluter pays principle occurs both at permitting stage through the Global Section 106 agreement and at the operational stage through inspection and enforcement mechanisms. The polluter pays principle is to be applied to industrial source emitters in the proportion of their contribution to the total exceedance levels observed, per pollutant, per location under scrutiny. This is imposed through application of the damage cost calculations undertaken in step 5, which correspond to the potential cost caused to society in terms of detriment to human health. This mechanism forces emitters to internalise the cost of pollution, creating a financial incentive to industrial units to minimise their pollution costs by reducing emissions both by design and by application of effective mitigation measures (e.g. retrofitting stacks with efficient air pollutant abatement technologies).
Derivation of the end user air pollution tax. Finally, an end user tax is applied to the price of the final product, which varies in direct proportion to the total value of the damage cost calculated in step 5. As an example, the textile industry must reduce its total emissions by an equivalent damage cost of €1m and the final price of the item is €20. Using the illustrative example presented in Table 1, the end user would have to pay an additional €1 (5%) as pollution tax, which is to revert to the government of the country of origin for a National Air Quality Fund, used to mitigate public exposure to hazardous levels of pollution.
“low cost stack retrofitting technologies including PM, NOx and SOx removal with high efficiencies are needed to support significant emission reductions”
There are business opportunities to be explored in the fields of low cost sensors for continuous ambient air quality monitoring and continuous monitoring of stack emissions to support the model implementation described in this article. In addition, low cost stack retrofitting technologies including PM, NOx and SOx removal with high efficiencies are needed to support significant emission reductions in areas identified as above limit values, particularly in areas of the globe where fast growing economies are observed.
- Named after the UK Planning obligations under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), commonly known as s106 agreements. This is a mechanism which make a development proposal acceptable in planning terms, that would not otherwise be acceptable. They are focused on site specific mitigation of the impact of development. S106 agreements are often referred to as ‘developer contributions’
- WTP – Weighted total population