World’s degrading air quality under a business-as-usual scenario
A paper co-authored by JRC researchers and recently published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics demonstrates the extent to which global air quality will deteriorate by 2050 if man-made emissions remain at current levels and air quality legislation is not reinforced. According to the paper, Effects of business-as-usual anthropogenic emissions on air quality, the air quality experienced by the average global citizen in 2050 would be almost as poor as that experienced by the average citizen in East Asia today.
Scientists from the JRC contributed to the paper by providing emissions information for a 'business-as-usual' scenario, which assumed that no additional climate and air pollutant mitigation policies beyond those implemented in 2005 would be put into place. In the scenario, population and economic growth were considered as the determining factors for energy and food consumption and therefore air pollution sources. This emissions information was used in the Max Planck Institute’s EMAC global chemistry/climate model to analyse the impact of such an emissions scenario on global and regional air quality.
The paper was a collaborative effort between JRC, the Max Planck Institute, and the UNESCO/IAEA International Centre for Theoretical Physics. It argues that if no additional measures are taken this particular scenario will result in an increasing number of people worldwide being affected by extremely reduced air quality. This relationship was measured using the Population-Weighted Multi Pollutant Index (PW-MPI), which combines demographic and pollutant concentration projections.
The authors of the paper highlight the need to implement emission reduction measures through more advanced climate and air pollution policies and legislation, than what is already in place in order to prevent such a tragic scenario from becoming reality. They refer to the scenario as "representing a pessimistic (but plausible) future." Current JRC research activities focus on identifying smart strategies for the cost-effective reduction of air pollution by combining air pollution and climate policies.