Natural gas has a positive impact on the air quality in urban areas


According to new research natural gas could be a weapon in the fight against urban air pollution

New research by the International Gas Union shows the positive impact of natural gas on the air quality in cities. Rotterdam and three other European cities demonstrate how the use of natural gas significantly contributes to a reduction in air pollution.

The use of natural gas in power generation, heating and transport can significantly reduce air pollution. This becomes clear from a study by the International Gas Union (IGU) that was published today. In 2012, air pollution claimed around 400,000 lives in the EU.

The improvement of air quality in urban areas is a top priority for local, national and international authorities. Cities around the world, both in developed and developing countries, increasingly take action against the harmful effects of air emissions on the environment, public health and the economy.

The IGU study shows the correlation between the reduction in air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. It also gives case studies of four European cities, including Rotterdam, where less coal is used for energy generation and heating, and more natural gas for transport. These cities experience a reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases and a significant improvement in air quality. The study also looked to other options, such as alternative energy, to improve air quality without impeding the economy.

Air pollution constitutes a major threat to the environment and public health. The measures which were taken in Rotterdam show that gas plays an important role in the improvement of air quality in urban areas. “These cases show that switching from coal to gas-fired power is often the fastest and cheapest way for countries to reduce emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particulates that are detrimental to the environment and have a significant impact on human health” said David Carroll, President of the IGU.

Highlights from the study:

  • In 2014, the life expectancy of a Rotterdam resident was three years shorter than that of the average Dutch citizen, because of the high levels of air pollution. Many challenges with respect to urban air pollution have their origin in port activities, port traffic and the area around the industrial installations.
  • The Rotterdam Climate Initiative (RCI) was introduced in 2010 and strives to improve the air quality in the port, the city and the surrounding industrial zones.
  • Rotterdam started bunkering LNG in August 2016 and is planning to install three LNG tanks before the end of 2016. The transition to LNG in the port of Rotterdam can reduce NOx emissions by 90% and SOx and PM emissions by 100%.

The IGU supports measures which reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and harmful air pollutants, for example:

  1. Improve the end use of energy efficiency;
  2. Increase combustion efficiency (reduce or eliminate black carbon and other products of incomplete combustion);
  3. Encourage the transition from coal to gas;
  4. Increase the use of renewable energy.

The complete study can be downloaded here: (



Source: IGU