Ten countries to exceed their NOx emission ceilings

EU member states must meet legally binding limits for four air pollutants set by the 2001 National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD), but according to the annual NECD status report released 1 June by the European Environment Agency (EEA), ten member states expect to miss their respective emission ceilings for nitrogen oxides.

The report documents the most recent emissions (2009) and projection information (2010) for the four pollutants sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia (NH3). The pollutants covered by the report harm both human health and the environment by contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone and particulate matter and leading to acidification and eutrophication. 

By contributing to more than 40 per cent of total EU27 NOx emissions in 2009, the road transport sector bears most of the blame for the anticipated exceedances. Although emissions from this sector have decreased since 1990, recent reductions have not been as large as originally anticipated. This is partly because the sector has grown more than expected and partly because vehicle emission standards have not always delivered the anticipated level of NOx reductions.

Some member states, such as the Netherlands and Slovenia, expect to exceed their respective NOx ceilings by only small margins (less than 5 per cent). In contrast, Germany and France expect to exceed their ceilings by 328 kilotonnes and 275 kilotonnes respectively - equivalent to exceedances of 31 and 34 per cent. Austria, while expecting a lower surplus in absolute terms, anticipates exceeding its ceiling by 40 per cent.

While all countries are likely to achieve their ceilings for SO2, four (Denmark, Germany, Portugal and Spain) are expected to exceed their ceilings for NMVOCs, and two (Germany and the Netherlands) those for NH3.

Source: European Environment Agency, 1 June 2011

In this issue