Eutrophication – an oversupply of organic matter or nutrients to an ecosystem – is the biggest challenge facing the Baltic Sea. One estimate suggests that the first basin in the Baltic Sea will achieve a non-eutrophication status between 2030 and 2040 and the last basins are not expected to reach this status before 2200 (two basins are not likely to meet targets at all).
The Water Framework Directive obliges all EU member states to prevent deterioration of the status of all water bodies and to ensure all water bodies achieve “good status” by 2027. Despite this, several studies suggest that current approaches to addressing eutrophication are too slow in delivering results.
The authors find that for the Baltic Sea to have a chance to recover, existing instruments must be changed and new ones considered. A trading system for eutrophication is seen as a plausible way to increase the efficiency of eutrophication work. However, the system must be designed so that it is compatible with EU legislation. The authors’ proposed solution is an “ambient” trading system where trade occurs with loads instead of emissions.