News 2017-04-30

Reducing nitrogen emissions from shipping can save 28.3 billion euros in health costs

A new study conducted by the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute on behalf of the Air pollution and Climate Secretariat (AirClim), shows that a nitrogen oxide emissions tax and refund mechanism, combined with the introduction of NOx Emission Control Areas in the Baltic and North Seas, would serve to improve adverse public health effects in coastal countries.

In the study, IVL researchers have analysed the cost-effectiveness of two potential instruments aimed at reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from shipping in the Baltic and North Seas. Ships built after 2021 operating within a NOx Emission Control Area (NECA), are compelled to comply with more stringent emission requirements. The NOx tax and refund system means that tax revenues are returned to shipping companies as a subsidy to install purification technology on ships built before 2021. In this way, NOx emissions from large parts of the fleet can be reduced in a short period of time.

– When nitrogen oxides are converted in the atmosphere, they form miniscule particles that contribute to increased morbidity and premature death in humans. Lower NOx emissions thus reduce adverse health effects in the population, says Katarina Yaramenka, project manager at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.

The analysis shows that the establishment of nitrogen emission control areas would reduce the societal costs related to adverse health effects due to air pollution by EUR 12 700 million in the period 2020-2040. At the same time, the introduction of a NOx tax and refund mechanism, could cut health-related costs by EUR 28 300 million over the same period.

The total technical cost of installing purification equipment will amount to EUR 6 200 million and EUR 16 500 million respectively.

– Both instruments are cost effective in the sense that health benefits exceed cost by a wide margin, says Katarina Yaramenka.

The establishment of NOx Emission Control Areas will gradually decrease emissions and associated negative effects, while the NOx tax and refund system will leverage faster and bigger emissions reductions that will greatly benefit the people of the Baltic and North Sea countries. In addition, the diminished deposition of oxidized nitrogen will reduce negative environmental impacts.

The report, published in the Air Pollution and Climate Secretariat's own report series, can be downloaded here.

For more information, please contact: Katarina Yaramenka, katarina.yaramenka@ivl.se, +46 (0)10-788 68 96