In current discussions about air pollution, CO2 and other important greenhouse gases are usually the primarily regarded pollutants. Nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions, however, seem to be a subject of the late 20th century that has been “resolved” in most parts of the world. Yet, NOX emissions are still doing severe harm to humans and the environment in many parts of the world, for example by enforcing the formation of ground-level ozone, especially during the summer months. Succeeding the transportation sector, the energy sector is causing the second largest share of worldwide NOX emissions. Especially in developing countries, NOX emission abatement in fossil fueled power
plants seems to be barely regarded, as the main focus is usually set on economic efficiency and the fulfilling of increasing demands. We compiled the NOX emission regulation legislation for the energy sector of 59 countries worldwide considering policy instruments and emission limits for two exemplary installations of the energy sector. Various political instruments exist to target NOX emission regulation, such as emission and immission limitations, technical specifications, market price based instruments (cap-and-trade or green certificate schemes), financial support programs and specific taxes. ... mehrThe various instruments and the political background of their implementation can have differing influences on the total emissions of a country which is investigated qualitatively in a comparative SWOT analysis taking the two most common instruments – emission and immission limits – into account. Apart from a qualitative comparison of these instruments, the impact of emission limits on national NOX emissions is also part of our study. It will be investigated quantitatively based on the example of the development of NOX emissions within the European Union since 1990. Our results show that based on publicly available data, a quantitative comparison of different policy instruments throughout the world is difficult. Yet we expect that the chosen kind of instrument is less important than its proper implementation and management in order to minimize NOX emissions of the energy sector. Our analyses are of special interest for political stakeholders which decide on future political instruments or have to comply with them, especially but not only in developing countries.