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An analysis of the likely success of policy actions under uncertainty: recovery from acidification across Great Britain

Whyatt, J. Duncan; Metcalfe, Sarah E.; Derwent, Richard G.; Page, Trevor

Authors

J. Duncan Whyatt

Richard G. Derwent

Trevor Page



Abstract

In the context of wider debates about the role of uncertainty in environmental science and the development of environmental policy, we use a Generalised Likelihood Uncertainty Estimate (GLUE) approach to address the uncertainty in both acid deposition model predictions and in the sensitivity of the soils to assess the likely success of policy actions to reduce acid deposition damage across Great Britain. A subset of 11,699 acid deposition model runs that adequately represented observed deposition data were used to provide acid deposition distributions for 2005 and 2020, following a substantial reduction in SO2 and NOx emissions. Uncertain critical loads data for soils were then combined with these deposition data to derive estimates of the accumulated exceedance (AE) of critical loads for 2005 and 2020. For the more sensitive soils, the differences in accumulated exceedance between 2005 and 2020 were such that we could be sure that they were significant and a meaningful environmental improvement would result. For the least sensitive soils, critical loads were largely met by 2020, hence uncertainties in the differences in accumulated exceedance were of little policy relevance. Our approach of combining estimates of uncertainty in both a pollution model and an effects model, shows that even taking these combined uncertainties into account, policy-makers can be sure that the substantial planned reduction in acidic emissions will reduce critical loads exceedances. The use of accumulated exceedance as a relative measure of environmental protection provides additional information to policy makers in tackling this ‘wicked problem’.

Citation

Whyatt, J. D., Metcalfe, S. E., Derwent, R. G., & Page, T. (2017). An analysis of the likely success of policy actions under uncertainty: recovery from acidification across Great Britain. Environmental Science and Policy, 73, 124-132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2017.03.007

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 17, 2017
Online Publication Date May 3, 2017
Publication Date 2017-07
Deposit Date Apr 13, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 3, 2017
Journal Environmental Science & Policy
Electronic ISSN 1873-6416
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 73
Pages 124-132
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2017.03.007
Keywords HARM, GLUE, uncertainty, critical loads, soil acidification
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/41922
Publisher URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1462901116306463
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: An analysis of the likely success of policy actions under uncertainty: Recovery from acidification across Great Britain; Journal Title: Environmental Science & Policy; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2017.03.007; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0





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