European Environment Agency (EEA)

More EU Member States to miss 2010 air pollutant limits

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Source: European Environment Agency (EEA)

A preliminary analysis of data reported under the EU National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC Directive) by Member States at the end of 2007 indicates that more countries anticipate missing one or more of their legally-binding 2010 emission ceilings compared to last year. The NEC Directive requires all Member States to annually report information 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 leading to acidification and eutrophication. 

The NEC Directive sets pollutant-specific and legally-binding emission ceilings (limits) for each country to be met by 2010.

As was noted last year, the emission ceiling for NOx remains the most difficult for many MS to meet. Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom now indicate that they will not reach their NOx ceilings by 2010 on the basis of policy measures they have put in place to date. This means that 13 out of 27 Member States anticipate missing their NOx ceilings -unless they take further measures to reduce emissions.

Five Member States (Denmark, France, Portugal, Spain and now also Poland) indicate they will miss their respective NMVOC ceilings; two countries their NH3 ceilings (Germany and Spain) and one, the Netherlands, its SO2 ceiling.

Overall, 15 countries have now indicated they will miss at least one of the four emission ceilings. It is however noted that several Member States (Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands) reported data indicating that, by implementing additional measures, they could still reach their 2010 emissions ceilings. In addition, by 2010 a number of countries will have successfully reduced emissions of certain pollutants significantly beyond the levels required by the NEC Directive ceilings i.e. they will have over achieved compared to their original commitments for these pollutants.

The data reported in 2007 includes for the first time data for the two new Member States, Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the European Union on 1 January 2007. Both anticipate meeting their emission ceilings for all four pollutants.

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