17 Jan 2024
 | 17 Jan 2024

Global scenarios of anthropogenic mercury emissions

Flora Maria Brocza, Peter Rafaj, Robert Sander, Fabian Wagner, and Jenny M. Jones

Abstract. Anthropogenic mercury (Hg) emissions to the atmosphere are a long-lived hazard to human and environmental health. The UN Minamata Convention on Mercury is seeking to lower anthropogenic mercury emissions through a mix of policies from banning Hg uses and trade, to reducing unintentional Hg releases from different activities. In addition to independent Hg policy, greenhouse gas, particulate matter (PM) and SO2 reduction policies may also lower Hg emissions as a co-benefit. This study uses the Greenhouse Gas – Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model to examine the effect of different clean air and climate policy on future global Hg emissions. The Baseline scenario assumes current energy use and Hg emissions, as well as current legislation for clean air, mercury and climate policy. In addition, we explore the impact of the Minamata Convention, co-benefits of climate policies and of stringent air pollution policies, as well as a maximum feasible reduction scenario for Hg (Hg-MFR). Hg emission projections until 2050 show noticeable reductions in combustion sectors for all scenarios, due to a decrease in global fossil fuels and traditional biomass use, leading to emission reductions of 33 % (Baseline) up to 90 % when combining stringent climate and Hg-MFR. Cement and non-ferrous metal emissions increase in all activity scenarios with current air pollution policy, but can be reduced by up to 72 % and 46 % respectively in 2050 with stringent Hg-specific measures. Other emissions (including waste) are a large source of uncertainty in this study, and projections range between a 22 % increase and 54 % decrease in 2050 depending on both climate and clean air policy. The largest absolute reduction potential for Hg abatement, but also the largest uncertainties of absolute emissions lie in the in small-scale and artisanal gold production, where Hg-specific abatement measures could eliminate annual Hg emissions in the range of 601–1371 t (95 % confidence interval). 90 % of the Hg emissions in GAINS are covered by the Minamata Convention. Overall, the findings emphasize the necessity of implementing targeted Hg control policies in addition to stringent climate, PM and SO2 policies to achieve significant reductions in Hg emissions.

Flora Maria Brocza, Peter Rafaj, Robert Sander, Fabian Wagner, and Jenny M. Jones

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-41', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-41', Francesco De Simone, 21 Feb 2024
Flora Maria Brocza, Peter Rafaj, Robert Sander, Fabian Wagner, and Jenny M. Jones

Data sets

Global scenarios of anthropogenic mercury emissions in GAINS Flora M. Brocza, Peter Rafaj, Fabian Wagner, and Robert Sander

Flora Maria Brocza, Peter Rafaj, Robert Sander, Fabian Wagner, and Jenny M. Jones


Total article views: 171 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
130 34 7 171 15 3 0
  • HTML: 130
  • PDF: 34
  • XML: 7
  • Total: 171
  • Supplement: 15
  • BibTeX: 3
  • EndNote: 0
Views and downloads (calculated since 17 Jan 2024)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 17 Jan 2024)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 173 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 173 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 29 Feb 2024
Short summary
To understand how atmospheric mercury levels will change in the future, we model how our Hg releases will change following developments in human energy use, mercury use, as well as our efforts in reducing pollution and battling climate change. This study models human Hg emissions until 2050, using different narratives of future developments which influence Hg emissions, such as energy use, climate policy and sector-specific pollution reduction measures for mercury and traditional air pollutants.