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Beyond CO2: A multi-criteria analysis of air pollution in Europe

Caravaggio, Nicola, Caravella, Serenella, Ishizaka, Alessio, Resce, Giuliano
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.219 pp. 576-586
air pollution, carbon dioxide, case studies, environmental assessment, greenhouse gas emissions, momentum, pollutants, power plants, urban areas, Europe
Environmental-economic perspectives are recently taking growing momentum in the analysis of country-level performances, but few studies take into account the multi-dimensional nature of the phenomenon. The leading measure of pollution still remains only CO2 emission or, at best, CO2 equivalent emission. The few works taking a multi-criteria perspective are mainly related to specific case studies, urban areas, or the localization of renewable power plants. In this paper, we propose a multi-criteria analysis for a macro-perspective assessment of 10 different pollutants in 30 European countries over the period 2008–2015. Methodologically, we propose a new hybrid tool allowing us to merge the consolidated procedure usually employed for environmental evaluation: PROMETHEE, with a more flexible weighing process inspired by Data Envelopment Analysis. The unprecedented use of this tool for developing a macro perspective allows the clustering of European countries according their relative performances without any exogenous assumption about the weights given to the specific pollutants. In addition, the empirical evidence emerging from the analysis provides a comprehensive picture of patterns followed by European economies, which highlights the relative strengths and flaws at country-level for the considered pollutants.