Environment: Reduction of air pollutants, Italy to fulfill 2030 goals


Italy is on track to achieve the 2030 targets of reducing emissions of the main air pollutants, with benefits in terms of health (-50% of deaths compared to 2010) and economic benefits (33 billion euros saved compared to the same year).

This is what emerges from one ENEA study published in the scientific journal “Atmosphere”, which assessed the effectiveness of policies and measures for air quality, introduced by the current National Air Pollution Control Program of the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Within the next decade with the measures envisaged in the Plan, our country will be able to achieve the emission reduction targets established by the European Union for sulfur dioxide (-80% against an EU target of 71%), nitrogen oxides (-70 %, EU target 65%), PM2.5 (-42%, EU target 40%), Non-Methane Volatile Organic Compounds (-50% EU target 46%) and ammonia (-17% EU target 16%).

"To achieve these objectives, our country will have to act on several fronts, with a mix of interventions that include the decarbonisation of energy production, energy efficiency in the residential sector, the spread of electric mobility and the adoption of new agricultural practices for the reduction of nitrogen emissions ”, explains Ilaria D'Elia, researcher of the ENEA Atmospheric Pollution laboratory and co-author of the study. “But these - she adds - are just some examples of measures to be taken for the abatement of atmospheric pollutants. It will be important that the numerous actions to be undertaken are structural and not occasional and that they give rise to a true integrated and synergistic programming between policies related to climate, energy and atmospheric pollution ”.

According to the analysis carried out by the Agency team, by 2030, the reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions will be driven by some sectors, in particular the maritime sector (-89% compared to 2010 values) and energy production (-59%). A sharp decline is also expected for nitrogen oxide emissions, especially in the road transport sector (-74%) and electricity generation (-46%). On the PM2.5 front, the sector that will provide the greatest contribution in terms of abatement of ultrafine particulate emissions is the civil sector (-46%) which will continue to maintain the record for these emissions by 2030. Ammonia remains the leading pollutant with the lowest reductions (-9% compared to 2010 values), a result obtained above all thanks to the lower use of urea-based fertilizers in the agricultural sector and zootechnical emissions.

"In 2010, the reference year of our research, the nitrogen dioxide map showed the highest concentrations in the cities of Milan, Turin, Rome and Naples and in the urban areas of the Po Valley due to the combined effect of emissions from domestic heating, agriculture and urban and extra-urban mobility ”, underlines Antonio Piersanti, head of the ENEA Atmospheric Pollution Laboratory and co-author of the study. "In 2030 - he adds - thanks to the measures implemented by the Plan, our study detects a widespread reduction in urban pollution, especially in the Lombard capital, thanks to a massive renewal of the car fleet and an increase in the share of electric vehicles ".

On the public health front, the adoption of air quality policies and measures, with interventions in the energy, civil, agricultural and mobility sectors, could lead to a drastic reduction in mortality caused by diseases aggravated or developed as a result of air pollution. In particular, the drop in nitrogen dioxide concentrations could lead to a 2010% reduction in mortality compared to 93 (793 cases compared to 11.769 estimated in 2010), followed by PM2.5 with 41% fewer deaths ( 34.666 cases compared to 58.867 in 2010) and ozone (O3) with 36% of deaths avoided (1.725 ​​cases compared to 2.692 in 2010). "The data for PM2.5 is interesting: according to our simulations, deaths should drop to 2030 cases per 4,43 inhabitants by 10 compared to 7,25 in 2010 and the most significant reduction, at a regional level, would occur especially in the Po Valley and in the urban areas of Florence, Rome and Naples ”, explains D'Elia.

On the economic front, the ENEA study quantified approximately 33 billion EUR the overall savings for Italy, equal to 2% of GDP 2010, the reference year of the study. Leading the ranking is Lombardy with 13,6 billion euros saved, followed by Lazio (4,4 billion), Veneto (3,2 billion) and Emilia-Romagna (2,9 billion).

The work was carried out with the "MINNI" system (National Integrated Model to support the International Negotiation on air pollution issues), one suite of tools developed by ENEA with the companies Arianet and IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) on behalf of the Ministry of Ecological Transition. At MINNI, atmospheric science is linked to the impacts of emission abatement measures on human health and ecosystems and related costs, through various independent and interconnected components: the "AMS" (Atmospheric Modeling System) model and the " GAINS-Italy ”(Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies Model over Italy). AMS produces hourly three-dimensional fields of meteorological variables and the concentration of the main pollutants (NO2, O3, PM10, PM2.5, etc.) throughout the Italian territory with a horizontal spatial resolution of 4 km, using the "FARM" (Flexible Air Quality Regional Model) transport and atmospheric chemistry model: the GAINS-Italy model elaborates emission scenarios at national and regional level of both traditional pollutants and greenhouse gases with a time horizon up to 2050 for the analysis of the impact on air quality and the related costs of abatement / mitigation measures. In this study, "MINNI" was implemented with complete annual "AMS" simulations for the base case 2010 and powered by the 2030 emissions produced with the GAINS-Italy model in two different scenarios (2030 "With Measures", corresponding to the trend scenario and 2030 “With Additional Measures”, the policy scenario), to obtain NO2 concentration ranges, PM2.5 and O3 at a resolution of 4 km, used for the subsequent assessment of the impact on health and costs.

For more information:

Antonio Piersanti, head of the Atmospheric Pollution Laboratory of the ENEA Research Center in Bologna antonio.piersanti@enea.it

Ilaria D'Elia, researcher of the ENEA Atmospheric Pollution laboratory ilaria.delia@enea.it

The Italian National Air Pollution Control Programme: Air Quality, Health Impact and Cost Assessment

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