Breaches of emission ceilings expected

Around half of the EU member states expect to miss one or more of the 2010 legal limits for air pollutant emissions set by the national emission ceilings (NEC) directive. According to recent data compiled by the European Environment Agency (EEA), eleven countries expect to exceed their ceilings by significant amounts – some missing NOx targets by more than 40 per cent.

Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and Spain are expected to exceed their national NOx ceilings by more than 10 per cent. The others, namely Germany, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK, are likely to exceed their ceilings by less than 10 per cent.

According to the EEA, this is partly because the road transport sector, which contributed around 40 per cent of total EU NOx emissions in 2008, has grown more than expected and partly because vehicle emission standards have not always delivered the foreseen level of NOx reductions.

The NECs for non-methane volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are expected to be exceeded by three countries: Spain, Portugal and Austria, and those for ammonia emissions also by three countries – the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.

The European Commission has not yet tabled its long overdue proposal to revise the NEC directive and tighten the NECs for 2020. Revision of the NEC directive is key to achieving the EU’s health and environmental objectives. In the absence of new legislation, the current NEC directive remains in force and requires that future emissions stay below national ceilings after 2010. (See also Acid News 4/2009, pages 4-5.)

Source: EEA press release, 4 May 2010

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