Air pollution (Liechtenstein)
Why should we care about this issue
- Air pollution
a) Why should we care about this theme?
The composition of our atmosphere has remained practically unchanged for thousands of years. As air is a balanced mixture of gases, it meets the needs of humans, animals and plants. Human activities, by their very nature, have always affected the composition of the air. But it is only relatively recently, with the rapid increase in motorisation, the great increase in consumption of fossil fuels and the release of new substances resulting from chemical processes, that the global balance has begun to be affected.
- Action Plan Air 2007: Evolution of air pollution in Liechtenstein, Emissions and Measures. http://www.llv.li/pdf-llv-aus-massnahmenplan_luft_200709.pdf
The state and impacts
b) What are the state (S) and impacts (I) related to this theme, including impacts on the natural environment and human health/well-being, both at national level as well as in transboundary terms?
Air quality in Liechtenstein has improved greatly over the past 25 years. Since 2000, however, progress has been minor. Concentration of particulate matter, ozone and nitrogen dioxide continue to be excessive, as do those of nitrogen compounds. This is due largely to emissions of particulate matter (PM10), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) as well as ammonia (NH3).
Air pollution has adverse effects on people, ecosystems, buildings, materials and the climate. In humans, it causes respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Sensitive ecosystems are over-fertilised by nitrogen compounds, which causes acidification. Acute impacts on plants can also be found. As a result, ozone exposure can cause yield losses of up to 15 % in agriculture, depending upon the specific crop and weather conditions.
The key drivers and pressures
c) What are the related key drivers (D) and pressures (P) at national level?
Ultimately it is human behaviour that determines emission levels. Mobility, energy consumption, industrial and agricultural production and consumption patterns are all principal contributors. Liechtenstein’s strong economic and population growth in recent years has resulted in more traffic and energy consumption. The efforts in the different sectors such as air quality, energy, and construction are almost neutralised by this growth.
The 2020 outlook
d) What is the 2020 outlook (date flexible) for the topic in question and how will this affect possible impacts on the natural environment and human health/well-being?
According to the Environmental Protection Act, the government must pass a plan describing strategies and measures in order to ensure an ongoing reduction or abatement of emissions. In September 2007, the government passed such a strategy and measures plan. The so-called ‘Action Plan Air’ describes 36 measures within the field of industry as well as other sectors such as agriculture, transport and households. The respective measures are generally focused on a longer period of time in order to ensure a sustainable improvement of environmentally harmful situations.
Existing and planned responses
e) Which responses (R) have been put in place or are planned at national level for the theme in question?
Since the air pollution control legislation entered into force, Liechtenstein has adopted a raft of measures. These include strict emission rules for heating systems, industrial facilities and motorised vehicles, as well as quality standards for fuels. In addition, incentive instruments such as the mileage-related heavy vehicle tax (MRHVT) or the levy on volatile organic compounds (VOC) have been introduced. Further measures are summarised in the air quality action plan 2007, a rolling instrument with the aim to improve the air quality continuously. Furthermore, public transport as well as energy saving and energy efficiency is supported vigorously by the state and the municipalities.