The GAINS model and IMP team can offer a range of valuable decision support to policy makers. This includes supporting the design and deployment of policy interventions, measuring and monitoring outcomes, reporting on and responding to policy challenges, and informing and strengthening negotiating positions with respect to compliance and new legislation.
On a national scale the GAINS model and IMP project can provide evaluations of policies and interventions, both technical and non-technical across all sectors of the economy. Such evaluations have included topics such as a carbon tax assessment for the transport sector to the impact of residential fuel regulations in Ireland. The economics background of the IMP team combined with data management, GIS and programming expertise, allied with the technical capacity of the GAINS model can ultimately be coordinated to offer almost any form of extensive policy analysis, with outputs allowing for evaluation of multiple outcomes such as GHG emissions, air pollution impacts, economic costs and so forth.
At a European level the GAINS model is particularly active and valuable in a policy context. In regards to climate policy, the model has provided a major part of the evidence base for the European effort sharing agreement on greenhouse gases, and is well suited to ongoing strategy and management of national targets in this context. In parallel the multi-sector multi-pollutant nature of the model allows robust assessments of the impact of interventions in one area of the economy in respect of the both the traded (e.g. power, heavy industry) and non-traded sectors. As regards international climate policy (e.g. Kyoto 2nd period), the GAINS model can offer valuable capacities for strategy, negotiation and intervention assessment, and the model has been developed and promoted to offer rapid evaluations of outcomes for various bargaining commitments in international climate policy.
With regard to air policy, GAINS and the precursor model RAINS have been the dominant models used in respect of evaluating, negotiating and setting European air related policy targets for almost 20 years. The model remains at the very core of the international research community's efforts to advance a cleaner air agenda for Europe and plays a focusing role for the international policy community in regards to the development and delivery of air related targets. The most recent major undertaking for the model has been the ongoing work to support the European review of the thematic strategy on air pollution. This review process for the EU's thematic strategy on air pollution will update the existing policies and directives available in Europe (including the National Emission Ceilings Directive).
The objective is to incorporate the latest scientific evidence into the process and to align the proposed policies and directives so as to achieve further cost-effective progress on air quality in Europe and so close the gap on the sixth Environmental Action Plan objective "to achieve levels of air quality that do not result in unacceptable impacts on, and risks to, human health and the environment." At the United Nations level, GAINS has played a similarly dominant role in the development and progression of the major protocols which anchor air policy in that domain. Specifically the major contributions have been made in respect of the original Gothenburg Protocol, and the most recent revision in 2012.
Looking to the future, the context for GAINS Ireland policy work will be grounded in the following four areas:
- The potential non-compliance proceedings for NOx under the National Emissions Ceiling Directive
- The imminent revision of the TSAP with respect to setting new emissions ceilings for 2025
- Planning the national response in regards to the revised Gothenburg Protocol for 2020
- Planning the national response and supporting 'corrective reporting' where Ireland deviates from the pathway to target under the European non-traded sector targets