Global scenarios of anthropogenic mercury emissions

Brocza, F. ORCID:, Rafaj, P. ORCID:, Sander, R. ORCID:, Wagner, F. ORCID:, & Jones, J.M. (2024). Global scenarios of anthropogenic mercury emissions. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 24 (12) 7385-7404. 10.5194/acp-24-7385-2024.

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Anthropogenic mercury (Hg) emissions to the atmosphere are a long-lived hazard to human and environmental health. The UN Minamata Convention on Mercury is seeking to lower anthropogenic mercury emissions through a mix of policies from banning certain Hg uses to reducing unintentional Hg release from different activities. In addition to independent Hg policy, strategies to mitigate greenhouse gases, particulate matter (PM) and SO2 may also lower Hg emissions as a co-benefit. This study uses the Greenhouse Gas–Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model to examine the effect of different clean air and climate policies on future global Hg emissions. The baseline scenario assumes current trends for energy use and Hg emissions as well as current legislation for clean air, mercury and climate policy. In addition, we explore the impact of the Minamata Convention, the co-benefits of climate and stringent air pollution policies, and maximum feasible reduction measures for Hg. Hg emission projections until 2050 show noticeable reductions in combustion sectors for all scenarios due to a decrease in global fossil fuel and traditional biomass use, leading to emission reductions of 33 % at baseline and up to 90 % when combining stringent climate controls and the most efficient Hg controls. Cement and non-ferrous metal emissions increase in all scenarios with current air pollution policy but could be reduced by up to 72 % and 46 %, respectively, in 2050 with stringent Hg-specific measures. Other emissions (including waste) are a significant source of uncertainty in this study, and their projections range between a 22 % increase and a 54 % decrease in 2050, depending on both climate and clean air policy. The largest absolute reduction potential for Hg abatement but also the largest uncertainties regarding absolute emissions lie in small-scale and artisanal gold production, where abatement measures could eliminate annual Hg emissions in the range of 601–1371 t (95 % confidence interval), although the uncertainties in the estimate are so high that they might eclipse reduction efforts in all other sectors. In total, 90 % of Hg emissions are covered by provisions of the Minamata Convention. Overall, the findings emphasize the necessity to implement targeted Hg control policies in addition to stringent climate, PM and SO2 policies to achieve significant reductions in Hg emissions.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Integrated Assessment and Climate Change (IACC)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Pollution Management (PM)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions (TISS)
Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2024 08:24
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2024 08:24

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