The impact of Swedish SO2 policy instruments on SO2 emissions 1990–2012
Journal article, 2017
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions cause acidification and human health problems which are, despite present
policy instruments, projected to remain even after 2030 in Europe. Additional instruments are needed to solve
the problems, and impact analysis of already used policy instruments would contribute to the development of
new effective instruments. We present a study on how much of the decoupling of SO2 emissions from economic
growth 1990–2012 that was due to SO2 policy instruments in general and to what extent it is possible to estimate
the impact of individual instruments. Focus is on Sweden, a country with problems reaching its SO2-related
environmental policy targets and with detailed data available.
We applied decomposition analysis combined with an analysis of the chronological development of emission
factors and mandated emission limits. Our use of official emission inventory data and publicly available data on
the development of SO2 policy instruments increase the usefulness of our results to policy makers.
The results indicate that at least 26–27% (corresponding to ∼35–36 ktonne annually) of the decoupling
1990–2012 was due to SO2 policy instruments. 4–5% (∼6–7 ktonne) of the decoupling was caused by one
environmental permit decision and stricter sulphur emission limit for marine oils. Most of the total impact of SO2
policy instruments could not be causally connected to an individual instrument, because many events and developments
overlap in time.
The implications of the results are that: a) SO2 policy instruments should still be important to reduce SO2
emissions in many countries; b) a lower boundary total emission impact of SO2 policy instruments can be estimated,
but with current knowledge and data the impacts of individual instruments are rarely possible to
estimate. Research on how to increase the precision in total impact estimates of SO2 policy instruments is needed
to improve future impact analyses. More detailed emission inventory data would improve impact analysis of