European Environment Agency (EEA)

NEC directive status report 2009


Courtesy of Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Executive summary

This report documents the most recent emissions and projections information requested under the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) (1) by the end of 2009. The directive requires all 27 Member States of the European Union to report information annually concerning emissions and projections for four main air pollutants: sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia (NH3). These pollutants harm both human health and the environment by contributing to formation of ozone and particulate matter and by causing acidification and eutrophication. To help protect human health and the environment, the NECD sets pollutant‑specific and legally binding emission ceilings for each of these pollutants and for each country, which must be met by 2010 and thereafter.

Comparison of emissions and projected emissions with the NECD emission ceilings for 2010

All Member States submitted emission data and provided projection data required by the directive in the latest (2009) reporting round (2).

Fourteen Member States anticipate they will meet all four of the pollutant-specific  emission ceilings specified in the NECD, with the remaining 13 Member States indicating they will miss at least one of their respective ceilings (Table ES.1). This is similar to the previous reporting round (2008). Following changes to their reported projections,
Poland now anticipates meeting its emission ceilings for all four pollutants, but Malta no longer does.

As noted in last year's report (3), for many Member States the 2010 emission ceiling for NOX remains the most challenging. Eleven Member States now report that they anticipate missing it, based on the reported 'with measures' projections. Three Member States (Austria, Portugal and Spain) indicate they will miss their NMVOC ceiling; three Member States (Germany, the Netherlands and Spain) expect to miss their NH3 ceiling, and one Member State (Malta) anticipates missing its SO2 ceiling.

Higher than anticipated emissions in the road transport sector contribute to the difficulties many Member States have in attaining their NOX ceilings. The road transport sector contributed around 40 % of total EU-27 NOX emissions in 2008 (4) and, although overall emissions have decreased since 1990, the reduction has not always been as large as originally anticipated. This is partly because the sector has grown more than expected and partly because vehicle emission standards have not always delivered the foreseen level of NOX reductions.

Several Member States, including Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom, expect to exceed their respective NOX ceilings by only small margins (less than 5 %). In contrast, France and Spain expect to exceed their ceilings by 261 kilotonnes and 236 kilotonnes respectively — equivalent to exceedances of 32 % and 28 %. Other countries, while expecting lower exceedances in absolute terms, anticipate exceeding their ceilings by even larger margins, notably Austria (42 %), Belgium (43 %) and Ireland (58 %).

However, for some of those Member States that do anticipate meeting their ceilings, considerable reductions compared with the reported 2008 emissions are still required. Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands, for example, project to attain their ceilings but report NOX emissions for the year 2008 that are more than 10 % away from their ceilings. This means significant emission reductions were needed in 2009 and in 2010 if the ceilings are to be attained. Similarly, Germany and Denmark report emissions for the year 2008 more than 10 % higher than their NMVOC ceilings. From the limited information provided by Member States under the NECD, it is not at all clear whether such significant reductions by 2010 will be feasible in all instances.

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