Air pollution - National Responses (Luxembourg)
- Air pollution
Luxembourg faces two main challenges in relation to air pollution: ozone at ground-level and nitrogen oxide emissions and concentrations.
With regard to ground-level or tropospheric ozone concentrations, a weather-simulation programme is under preparation which will anticipate future ozone peaks and advise the public accordingly. Legislation has also recently been modified to impose a maximum speed limit of 90 km/hour on motorways when the pre-alert threshold has been exceeded. Since the EU Directive 2002/3/EC relating to ozone in ambient air was transposed into national law in 2003, Luxembourg has set new target values for 2010 and 2020 and established new reporting and alert thresholds. For the protection of human health, a daily maximum of 120 μg/m3 has been set (sliding values over eight hours). As of 2010, this daily maximum must not be exceeded more than 25 times per calendar year (three-year average), and as of 2020 it must not be exceeded at all.
To date, there is no regional plan in place for the prevention and control of tropospheric ozone in cooperation with neighbouring countries. However, given the limited size of the national territory, Luxembourg cannot win the battle against ground-level ozone by means of national measures alone. The import of ozone precursors from bordering regions makes cooperation necessary, and Belgium is being prioritised as the prevailing winds come from that direction. Cooperation is planned at two levels. Firstly, at the level of information and forecasting, an agreement is being negotiated to enable Luxembourg to participate in the forecasting work on ozone and fine-particle concentrations being done for Belgium by Brussels’ Interregional Committee of the Environment (CELINE). This aim of this undertaking is to better inform the public − and vulnerable populations in particular − about air quality trends. In a second phase, Luxembourg will work with the Belgian authorities to establish an action plan for reducing ozone precursors.
As required by Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, an air quality plan for the city of Luxembourg is currently under consideration. The main objective is to restrict the exceedance of nitrogen oxide (NOx) limits in the city centre. Some of the measures proposed include an accelerated renewal of the city bus fleet, the creation of a tramway, and the prohibition of trucks in certain critical sectors of the city. The national target in the Transport Action Plan of having 25 % of commuter journeys made by public transport by 2020 will also contribute to this objective – see climate change mitigation common environmental theme. Progress with NOx emissions can also be expected as a result of stricter European vehicle standards applied to commercial vehicles in October 2008 (Euro V) and to private vehicles in September 2009 (Euro 5). However, these vehicle-related measures alone will not offset the impact of the projected increase in road traffic. Moreover, measures will have to be taken in relation to road fuel prices (lower in Luxembourg than in neighbouring countries) since ‘road fuel sales to non-residents’ represent almost 40 % of the total greenhouse gas emissions – see climate change mitigation common environmental theme.
NOx emissions are also produced from district heating and industrial activities (especially the glass factories). In relation to district heating, measures are needed to address household energy consumption and the energy performance of buildings. Such measures exist in both the national Action Plan for CO2 reduction and plans to increase the use of renewable energy sources and become more energy-efficient under the EU climate and energy package objectives – see climate change mitigation common environmental theme for details. The main aim of these measures, which is to reduce greenhouse gases, would have the added benefit of reducing NOx emissions. As for glassmaking, discussions are underway to determine the best available technology (BAT) for reducing NOx emissions.
Other interesting links
National Programme for reducing emissions of selected atmospheric pollutants (‘Programme National de Réduction Progressive des Emissions de Polluants Atmosphériques (SO2, NOx, COV, NH3’): click here (in French).National Plan for implementing the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) into play (‘Plan national de mise en œuvre de la Convention de Stockholm sur les polluants organiques persistants (POP)’): click here (in French).
2009 Activity Report, Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructures – p. 136-199: click here (in French).