The Arctic is a vital region that helps preserve the balance of the global climate. The Arctic environment is particularly sensitive to short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, which is the most light-absorbing component of particulate matter. Ambitious policy action to reduce air pollution would therefore reduce the negative environmental, health and economic impacts of air pollution, while slowing down climate change by reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants.

Due to their proximity to the Arctic region, a central role in reducing air pollution in the Arctic is played by Arctic Council countries, namely Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States. Arctic Council countries have affirmed their support to collectively bring black carbon emissions down by 25-33% by 2025 from 2013 levels.Ambitious policy action to reduce air pollution in Arctic Council countries would help achieve this target.

This report presents a quantitative assessment of the environmental, health and economic consequences of ambitious policy action to reduce air pollution in Arctic Council countries. The scenario analysis is based on a suite of modelling tools to project the impacts of increasingly ambitious policies up to 2050. The report compares a business-as-usual scenario with policy scenarios in which Arctic Council countries, and other regional groupings, adopt the best available techniques to reduce air pollutant emissions, including end-of-pipe technologies, the use of cleaner fuels, and measures to reduce emissions in the agricultural sector.

The modelling shows that these policies could substantially curb emissions of several air pollutants, including bringing black carbon emissions well below the collective target. The benefits would include better air quality, and reductions in air pollution-related premature deaths and illnesses. The costs of achieving the emission reductions would be offset by the economic benefits resulting from improved human and environmental health. When also accounting for the welfare benefits of reduced mortality and pain and suffering from illness, the economic benefits of air pollution policies become substantial.

Overall, the results presented in this report highlight that policy action addressing air pollution in Arctic Council countries could lead to significant environmental, health and welfare benefits, whilst also helping to preserve the Arctic ecosystems.


Rodolfo Lacy, Director, OECD – Environment Directorate

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