- Journal Article
Authors' Summary: Understanding policy effects on human-caused air pollutant emissions is key for assessing related health impacts. We develop a flexible scenario tool that combines updated emissions data sets, long-term economic modeling, and comprehensive technology pathways to clarify the impacts of climate and air quality policies. Results show the importance of both policy levers in the future to prevent long-term emission increases from offsetting near-term air quality improvements from existing policies.
Abstract: Air pollution is a major sustainability challenge – and future anthropogenic precursor and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will greatly affect human well-being. While mitigating climate change can reduce air pollution both directly and indirectly, distinct policy levers can affect these two interconnected sustainability issues across a wide range of scenarios.
We help to assess such issues by presenting a public Tool for Air Pollution Scenarios (TAPS) that can flexibly assess pollutant emissions from a variety of climate and air quality actions, through the tool’s coupling with socioeconomic modeling of climate change mitigation. In this study, we develop and implement TAPS with three components: recent global and fuel-specific anthropogenic emissions inventories, scenarios of emitting activities to 2100 from the MIT Economic Projection and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model, and emissions intensity trends based on recent scenario data from the Greenhouse Gas–Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model.
An initial application shows that in scenarios with less climate and pollution policy ambition, near-term air quality improvements from existing policies are eclipsed by long-term emissions increases – particularly from industrial processes that combine sharp production growth with less stringent pollution controls in developing regions. Additional climate actions would substantially reduce air pollutant emissions related to fossil fuel (such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides), while further pollution controls would lead to larger reductions for ammonia and organic carbon (OC).
Future applications of TAPS could explore diverse regional and global policies that affect these emissions, using pollutant emissions results to drive global atmospheric chemical transport models to study the scenarios’ health impacts.