What progress is being made towards reducing emissions of the main air pollutants across Europe?

Policy Question
Indicator codes: CSI 040 , APE 010

Key messages

(20 Jul 2017)

  • Anthropogenic emissions of the main air pollutants decreased significantly in most EEA member countries between 1990 and 2015:
    • emissions of nitrogen oxides decreased by 52 % (56 % in the EU-28);
    • emissions of sulphur oxides decreased by 83 % (89 % in the EU-28);
    • emissions of non-methane volatile organic compounds decreased by 59 % (61 % in the EU-28);
    • emissions of ammonia decreased by 18 % (23 % in the EU-28);
    • emissions of fine particulate matter decreased by 28 % (26 % in the EU-28) from 2000.
  • The EU-28 met its continuing obligation to maintain emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, ammonia and non-methane volatile organic compounds below legally binding targets, as specified by the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD). Some EU Member States reported emissions that were above their NECD emission ceilings: six countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg) exceeded emission ceilings for nitrogen oxides, six (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Spain and Sweden) exceeded emission ceilings for ammonia and five (Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland and Luxembourg) exceeded emission ceilings for non-methane volatile organic compounds. There are no emission ceilings for primary fine particulate matter.
  • Emission ceilings were set for 2010 for two additional EEA member countries (Norway and Switzerland) in the Gothenburg Protocol under the 1979 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution. Norway reported emissions above their ammonia ceilings.
  • Emission reduction commitments for 2020 have been set under the revised Gothenburg Protocol. The EU-28 as a whole is on track to meet reduction commitments.

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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