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Water quality management and climate change mitigation: cost-effectiveness of joint implementation in the Baltic Sea region

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This paper explores the scope for simultaneously managing nutrient abatement and climate change mitigation in
the Baltic Sea (BS) region through the implementation of a selection of measures. The analysis is undertaken
using a cost-minimisation model for the entire BS region, the BALTCOST model. In the present research, the
model has been extended to include greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions effects, enabling us to analyse the tradeoffs
between cost-effective GHG and nutrient load reductions. We run the model for four different scenarios in
order to compare the environmental and economic consequences of contrasting strategies: single environmental
objective management versus joint implementation strategy. The results show that implementing land-based
measures with a sole focus on water quality (to meet the HELCOM's 2013 Baltic Sea Action Plan nutrient
abatement targets) can produce climate change mitigation co-benefits equivalent to 2.3% of the 2005 emission
level (from agriculture and waste water combined) for the entirety of the BS region. More interestingly, a joint
implementation strategy can deliver further climate change mitigation benefit (i.e. up to 5.4%) at a marginal
cost that is comparable to mitigation costs reported by other studies for efficient technologies. All in all the
results demonstrate that a joint strategy to improve water quality and to reduce climate change is economically
beneficial. Our findings show that the cost and the outcome of the implementation vary between countries. This
illustrates the need to develop a joint regional policy for water and climate regulation that fully considers the
asymmetry in both the expected effects and cost distribution across the countries in the region.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Economics
Pages (from-to)12-26
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

    Research areas

  • Trade-off Water management Climate change mitigation Co-benefit Cost-minimisation Economic-hydrological model

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