The main sources of air pollutants in Belgrade are heating, road transport and coal-fired power plants.
The World Bank’s analysis of air pollution in Belgrade and the territory including the nearby cities of Smederevo and Pančevo showed the largest sources of pollution are in the urban areas themselves – heating plants, household heating, and road transport, followed by thermal power plants and heating in rural households.
PM2.5 emissions are now 27.4 micrograms, and the WHO recommends that they are kept below 10 micrograms
According to the analysis, presented today at regional conference How to Win the Balkan Air-Pollution Dodgeball, organized by the RES Foundation, average annual concentration of particulate matter PM2.5, one of the most dangerous air pollutants, is above 27 micrograms per cubic meter in the Belgrade region. The World Health Organization recommends the measure to be kept under 10 micrograms to avoid harmful effects on human health.
Two measures could drastically improve air quality
Air quality could drastically be improved within 12 months not only in the Belgrade region, but also in Serbia, if the content of sulfur in heavy fuel oil for heating is reduced and if sulfur dioxide emissions in power plants ran by state-owned power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije are brought under the allowed limits.
According to the author of the analysis, Sarath Guttikunda from the World Bank, it includes data from large industrial facilities, construction waste landfills and quarries for the construction industry as the sources of harmful dust. Data from the Serbian Environmental Protection Agency were also used in the analysis.
The situation in Sarajevo and Skopje is similar to that in Belgrade
The analysis was also conducted for Sarajevo and Skopje, and in all three cities the situation is similar.
Measures that produce results in a year
Guttikunda said the estimate of the effects of the two said measures to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions was calculated. Their introduction could give results in 2021.
Reduction of sulfur levels in heavy fuel oil
One would be to reduce the content of sulfur in heavy fuel oil used for residential heating from 3% to 1% on January 1. The other scenario is to lower SO2 emissions from thermal power plants Nikola Tesla A and B and Kostolac A and B to the level prescribed by the existing National Emissions Reduction Plan (NERP).
Coal-fired power plants should comply with the limits set in NERP
The first measure would bring a reduction of annual CO2 emissions by 42% in Serbia, and the second by 83%, while the reduction in Belgrade would be 18% and 22% respectively, he added.
How to reduce PM2.5 emissions to the level recommended by WHO
The analysis also reveals measures in five sectors are necessary to reduce the average annual concentration of particulate matter PM2.5 from 27 micrograms per cubic meter to 10 micrograms, in line with the World Health Organization’s recommendation
Preventing open fires in agriculture can also reduce pollution
Emissions would need to be cut by 75% in both road transport and heating and open fires in agriculture should be eliminated. To achieve the goal, the industry would have to lower its volume by 50%, compared to 75% for emissions from outside urban areas, mostly in thermal power plants.
Guttikunda said reducing emissions from traffic, industry and thermal power plants would improve air quality throughout the year and that measures in the heating sector would only bring results during the winter.