European Environment Agency (EEA)

NEC Directive status report 2012


Courtesy of Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

This report describes the most recent emission inventory information provided by the Member States of the European Union at the end of 2012 under Directive 2001/81/EC, the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) (EC, 2001).

The NECD requires all 27 Member States to report information annually concerning emissions for four important air pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOX), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3). These pollutants can cause respiratory problems, contribute to the acidification and eutrophication of soil and surface water, and damage vegetation by exposure from tropospheric ozone resulting from these emissions. 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 were to be met by 2010 and in future years.

Comparison of emissions data reported by Member States with the emission ceilings of the NECD
Each year by 31 December, Member States are required to report their national emission inventories for the four NECD pollutants. More specifically, final emission data should be submitted for the previous year but one, as well as provisional emission data for the previous year. At the end of 2012 therefore, Member States were required to report final emission data for the year 2010, and provisional estimates of emissions for 2011.

Analysis of the official 'final' 2010 data confirms eleven Member States exceeded their respective NOX ceilings for that year (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden) (see Table ES.1). Seven of these Member States (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and Spain) continued to breach this ceiling in 2011, in some instances by significant amounts. In absolute amounts Germany and France reported the highest exceedances of the NOX ceilings in 2011, by 242 and 195 kilotonnes respectively. In percentage terms, Austria (40 %) and Luxembourg (64 %) continued to exceed their NOX emission ceilings the most in 2011.

Denmark and Germany were the only two Member States to have exceeded three of the four emission ceilings under the directive in 2010 (for NOX, NMVOC and NH3) (Table ES.1), although Denmark subsequently brought emissions below the ceilings for each of these pollutants according to the provisional 2011 data. Germany continued to exceed three of its four emission ceilings. Spain exceeded two ceilings (for NOX and NH3) in 2010 and 2011. All Member States have achieved the emission ceilings for SO2. In total, eight Member States exceeded one or more of the emission limits in 2011, four fewer than in 2010.

The road transport sector is one of the main contributory factors behind the large number of NOX exceedances, as reductions of NOX from this sector over the last two decades have not been as large as originally anticipated. This is partly because the sector has grown more than expected and partly because of the increased penetration of diesel vehicles that have higher NOX emissions than petrolfuelled vehicles and for which vehicle emission standards have not always delivered the anticipated level of reductions (EEA, 2011).

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