Effects of Climate Policies on Emissions of Air Pollutants in the Netherlands

30-10-2008 | Publication

Overall, for air quality, the Dutch climate policy plan ‘Clean and Efficient’ (Schoon en Zuinig) appears to work out well. However, its effect on air quality also remains largely uncertain, partly due to uncertainties around the effectiveness of individual climate measures. For instance, implementing the use of biofuels and the large-scale capture and storage of carbon dioxide could both turn out to have an unfavourable effect on air quality.

Not all climate measures have a favourable effect on air quality

Overall, for air quality, the Dutch climate policy plan ‘Clean and Efficient’ (Schoon en Zuinig) appears to work out well. However, its effect on air quality also remains largely uncertain, partly due to uncertainties around the effectiveness of individual climate measures. One of these uncertainties surrounds the effect of using biofuels and whether this will diminish air pollution or, in fact, add to it. Moreover, large-scale capture and storage of carbon dioxide might lead to increased nitrogen oxide emissions.

Effects of climate policy on air quality favourable, although yet uncertain

The measures of the Dutch climate policy plan ‘Clean and Efficient’ (Schoon en Zuinig) aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some of these measures, such as energy saving and an increased application of wind energy, can lead to a reduction in the emission of air polluting compounds, as well. However, the effects of a number of other significant climate measures on the emission levels of air pollutants, is unknown and/or uncertain. To quantify these uncertainties, research has been done, in 2008, as part of the Policy Research Programme on Air and Climate (Beleidsgericht Onderzoeksprogramma Lucht en Klimaat [BOLK]).

This research has shown, that measures, such as those implementing the use of biofuels and biomass, and carbon capture and storage, will not necessarily lead to a reduction in the emission of air pollutants. On top of that, the emission of certain air pollutants could even increase, in some cases. Nevertheless, the net effect of all measures of the Dutch climate policy plan on air quality is positive. Uncertainties around these effects, however, still remain.

The knowledge acquired within the BOLK programme on the specific climate measures, can add to an efficient design of future Dutch policies on climate and air quality. Moreover, this knowledge could also benefit other countries which are considering or implementing similar measures.