Emissions trading good for health, new study by UHH finds

10 July 2024
Cluster of Excellence "Climate, Climatic Change and Society" analyses indirect effects of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme

The European Emissions Trading System has considerable health benefits and saves billions in costs, according to a study by the Cluster of Excellence "Climate, Climatic Change and Society" (CLICCS) at the University of Hamburg (UHH). The study also analysed the indirect effects  indirect effects of the European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) on hazardous air pollutants such as sulfur oxide, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.

Trading system lowers CO2 and avoids climate damage

“European climate protection reduces CO2 and thus prevents climate damage across the globe, particularly for future generations. At the same time, the EU Emissions Trading System is providing substantial benefits for human health for European citizens. This can be an important motivating factor for supporting climate policy,” Prof. Dr. Moritz Drupp concluded from the study’s results. Drupp and researchers in CLICCS had analysed the effects of the European Emissions Trading System on pollution and air pollutants. The results show that 15 million tonnes (Mt) of sulphur dioxide, 1 Mt of particulate matter and 5 Mt of nitrogen oxides have been reduced in the electricity and other regulated sectors since the launch of the system. But even when the researchers subtracted the full potential amount of reductions resulting directly from the emissions standards, the amount of damage to health prevented comes to more than EUR 100 billion. 

University advancing climate research 

The effectiveness of emissions trading in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is well documented. However, the UHH wanted to close a research gap by focusing on the health side effects. “While our study provides an initial estimate at the aggregate level, we need further analyses to investigate where the reductions are occurring, and which groups of individuals specifically benefit,” added Dr. Piero Basaglia. UHH also publishes its own climate protection report and measures the university's carbon footprint.

Sources and further information

EU Emissions Trading Scheme

The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) was introduced in 2005 and has been the central European climate protection instrument ever since. It documents emissions from around 9,000 installations in the energy sector and energy-intense industry across Europe. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by setting upper limits.

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