Addressing air pollution effectively in BiH will require policy, institutional, and investment interventions in various sectors, including residential and transport whose activities affect air quality. Some interventions that the government may consider include the following:
Residential. The government could develop a large-scale program to substitute traditional stoves with more efficient ones. It could start with implementing a pilot program in the short term. Lessons from such a pilot, and other existing initiatives, could be taken into account to inform the development of a possible large-scale stove replacement program. In many countries, similar programs have been implemented with targeted subsidies for project beneficiaries who cannot afford to pay the full costs of substituting their stoves with cleaner alternatives. An awareness program would help educate the public on the purpose of stove replacement, low-emission stove use, and available resources for households and promote adoption of clean stoves in households.
Additional measures such as expanding district heating could be developed over the medium to long term. Selection of interventions such as restrictions on burning of solid fuels in households, increased gas connections, expansion of district heating, and energy efficiency measures such as those contemplated in the Sarajevo Cantonal Environmental Action Plan should be based on analysis of the benefits and costs of alternative interventions. Furthermore, the distributional impacts of alternatives should be well understood to ensure that they do not disproportionately burden poor households.
Mobile sources. Despite its apparently small share of pollution, transport is known to be highly locally polluting and should be addressed. Current standards for fuel quality allow high sulfur content up to 350 ppm for diesel and 150 ppm for gasoline compared to the 10 ppm limit on sulfur content required by EU legislation. BiH has taken measures to restrict imports of vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 standard and has recently been consulting introduction of temporary suspension of duties on imported new vehicles, to promote importation of new and electric vehicles.
However, if the disincentive to import old, polluting vehicles is not sufficiently strong, it may have limited impact on reducing air pollution. Additional measures that the government could consider include (a) revision of fuel quality standards to make them more stringent; (b) putting in place of additional economic incentives to replace older vehicles with more modern, cleaner vehicles; (c) stricter enforcement of measures to reduce importation of old, polluting vehicles, including the requirement for inspections at the point of entry; (d) putting in place of mandatory monitoring and inspection programs that are strictly enforced; and (e) inclusion of criteria related to vehicle use and maintenance in parameters for ECO tests for vehicles. Further strengthening and expansion of the public transport in urban areas, in particular using environment-friendly vehicles, could additionally help decrease pollution from mobile sources.
Stationary sources. Starting with large facilities, there is a need to close loopholes that allow stationary sources to operate without the necessary pollution control equipment and in violation of air emissions standards. The legal framework could be tightened to ensure that the sanctions for facilities operating without a valid environmental permit, and facilities that exceed their approved emissions levels, are clear and commensurate with the damage they cause. In addition, enforcement of sanctions would need to be strengthened.
Also, the government could provide financial incentives for smaller industrial undertakings to strengthen AQM. Additional measures that are available to control emissions from stationary sources include setting consumption caps to gradually reduce coal use; incorporating new technologies for desulfurization, denitrification, and dust elimination; setting more stringent emission control standards for coal-fired plants; and setting resource and energy conservation goals targeted at resource-intensive industries. However, it would be important to assess whether the benefits of these interventions would outweigh their costs.