Costs and Benefits of Nitrogen for Europe and Implications for Mitigation

16-04-2013 | Publication

Cost-benefit analysis can be used to provide guidance for emerging policy priorities in reducing nitrogen (N) pollution. The results support the priority for further reduction in NH3 and NOx emissions from transport and agriculture beyond commitments recently agreed in revision of the Gothenburg Protocol.

Costs and benefits

The annual social costs related to impacts of nitrogen (N) in the EU27 in 2008 was estimated at between 75 and 485 billion euros. A cost share of around 60% is related to emissions to air. The share of the total impact on human health is about 45% and may reflect a greater willingness to pay for human health than for ecosystems or climate stability. The annual economic benefits of N in primary agricultural production range between 20 and 80 billion euros, which is lower than the annual costs of 35 to 230 billion euros in pollution related to agricultural N. The results indicate that there is still a large scope to generate net benefits for society by a further reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxides, ammonia and nitrate.