Since their peak around thirty years ago, emissions of air pollutants in Europe have come down significantly. Tougher emission standards for industry and road vehicles have resulted in less polluting power plants and cars.
In 2012 worldwide shipping consumed some 300 million tonnes of fuel oil, resulting in emissions of 949 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Unless concerted action is taken, these emissions are expected to grow by up to five times by 2050.
Air pollution legislation to reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) has effectively reduced rates of premature deaths, new research suggests, and additional reductions would lead to even further public health benefits.
A study by Dutch consultancy TNO has found that in spite of facing a tighter NOx emissions limit of 80 mg/km, diesel-driven Euro 6 vehicles emitted around 500 mg/km in real-world driving circumstances, which means they are approximately equal to Euro 4 and Euro 5 vehicles.
The Norwegian government cancelled its national CCS project in Mongstad in 2013 because of spiralling cost estimates for setting up a full-scale CCS plant. Instead, it will invest 14 million euro in a CCS demonstration project in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Vattenfall has stopped its CCS research in Europe, including Schwarze Pumpe CCS. The company has instead taken some first steps to cooperate with SASK Power in Canada and its Boundary Dam Power Station CCS project.
Beijing has closed the first of four large coal-fired power plants set to be decommissioned as part of the city’s efforts to cut smog-forming air pollution. Beijing’s three remaining coal-fired power plants are all to be closed by the end of 2016.
China, which depends on coal for about 65 per cent of its energy, will ban sales and imports of coal with high contents of ash or sulphur in a move to promote cleaner types of the fuel and improve the nation’s air quality.
Global CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels are projected to rise by 2.5 per cent in 2014, according to research by the Global Carbon Project. That is 65 per cent above 1990 levels, the reference year of the Kyoto Protocol, and will lead to record-high emissions of 40 billion tonnes.
Despite the economic crisis, Europeans’ concern about the environment has not diminished. In an overwhelming consensus, 95 per cent of the 28,000 interviewed citizens said that protecting the environment is important to them personally and many think more can be done.
Nine more shipping companies have joined Maersk and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) by signing up to the Trident Alliance, an industry-led initiative to ensure enforcement of the stricter ship sulphur regulations, which was formally launched on July 7.
The Italian government is banning all cruise ships exceeding 96,000 tonnes from Venice’s historic centre and the Giudecca Canal from 2015, and is restricting visits by smaller ships of no more than 40,000 tonnes.
Stricter maritime sulphur rules regulating the Adriatic and Ionian seas are due to come into effect on 1 January 2018. The new rule would prohibit a sulphur content in bunker fuel of more than 0.10 per cent in both seas, according to an Italian government statement.
On 31 August 2014 the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards released the final version of the policy assessment for the review of the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).
Sales of electric vehicles in Europe have doubled every year since 2010, and provisional figures for 2013 indicate that almost 50,000 plug-in vehicles were sold, i.e. around 0.4 per cent of all car sales in the EU.
Bulgaria and Latvia have to improve protection for citizens from particulate matter (PM10) pollution. Citizens in all six zones and agglomerations in Bulgaria (AG Sofia, AG Plovdiv, AG Varna, North, South-West and South-East) have been exposed to excessive levels of PM10 since at least 2007.
Since 1992 the European Union Life Programme has co-funded 298 projects with the direct ambition to improve air quality, with many more having an indirect impact on air as a co-benefit of their core actions.
On 23 September, at the Climate Summit, the UN launched a Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture. More than 20 governments, and 30 organisations and private companies have already announced that they will join.