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EU states breaching National Emission Ceilings Directive limits

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EU states breaching National Emission Ceilings Directive limits

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(COPENHAGEN) - Ten EU Member States continue to emit air pollution from sources such as transport and agriculture above legal limits according to new data published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) Friday.

Under the EU's National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) (2001/81/EC), Member States have individual air pollutant emission limits, or 'ceilings', which are supposed to restrict emissions for four important air pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3).

All Member States are required to meet their emission ceilings as of 2010. However, preliminary 2014 data and final data for 2010-13 in the EEA's new briefing 'NEC Directive reporting status 2015' shows that a number of countries consistently breached their limits for NOx, NMVOCs and NH3 in all these years.

The EEA says the main reasons for the exceedances are emissions from road transport (NOx) and agriculture (NH3). Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the harmful component of NOx, directly harms health as high concentrations can cause inflammation of the airways leading to respiratory conditions and cardiovascular disease. In addition, NOx forms fine particulate matter and ozone in the atmosphere. Both pollutants have adverse effects on human health. NH3, which mainly stems from the use of fertilisers and the handling of animal manure, also forms particulate matter in the atmosphere. Moreover, both pollutants have impacts on ecosystems as they contain nitrogen.

Key findings

  • In 2014, 10 Member States reported emission data under the NECD that were above the ceiling for at least one pollutant.
  • Germany was the only Member State that exceeded three out of its four emission ceilings in 2014 (NOx, NMVOCs and NH3).
  • Since 2010, 10 Member States have persistently exceeded their respective emission ceilings for NOx (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg), NMVOCs (Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg) and NH3 (Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain).
  • The SO2 ceilings emissions were not exceeded by any Member State during the period 2010-2014.
  • The EU-28 as a whole did not exceed its aggregated emission ceilings for any of the four air pollutants in 2014.

Source: European Environment Agency

NEC Directive reporting status 2015

NEC Directive data viewer


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