Europe: Updated data show emissions of most harmful air pollutants dropped in 2018, marking EU progress under UN Convention.

August 28, 2020

Emissions of five harmful air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3) reduced across the European Union between 2017 and 2018 according to updated data reported July 23, 2020 by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The data is from the annual EU emission inventory report sent to the UNECE Air Convention (Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution – CLRTAP).

Between 2017 and 2018, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur oxides (SOX), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO) and ammonia (NH3) dropped by 4.1%, 2.0%, 6.7%, 3.8%, 4.3%, and 1.6%, respectively, for the EU as a whole. Wider differences were reported by Member States, with increased emissions of certain pollutants occurring in a number of individual countries.

The EU Air Convention report racks the emissions of key air pollutants over past years. It is submitted annually by the EU to the UNECE under the requirements of the Gothenburg Protocol to the Air Convention, which aims to limit, and as far as possible, gradually reduce and prevent air pollution. The protocol also sets emission limits for a range of air pollutants that have to be met from 2010 onwards and emissions reduction commitments for 2020 and beyond.

The EU’s National Emission reduction Commitments in the (NEC) Directive, transposes the EU obligations under the Gothenburg Protocol into EU legislation. The NEC Directive sets emission reduction commitments for five main air pollutants for 2020-2029 and more ambitious obligations for 2030 onwards.

The EEA recently highlighted the latest information reported separately by Member States concerning the NEC Directive. Air pollution is the single largest environmental risk to human health in Europe, contributing to chronic and serious diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer, and shortening lifespans. Poor air quality caused by air pollution can also harm vegetation and ecosystems. Moreover, several air pollutants also contribute to climate change.

What this means to you
Between 2017 and 2018, European Union emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur oxides (SOX), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO) and ammonia (NH3) dropped by 4.1%, 2.0%, 6.7%, 3.8%, 4.3%, and 1.6%, respectively according to updated data from the European Environment Agency.

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