Almost half of EU countries are failing to meet legally-binding limits on air pollution emissions, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA)
In an analysis of the performance of all 27 member states against the National Emission Ceilings Directive (2001/81/EC) – which sets limits on the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and ammonia that can be emitted – the EEA found that 12 countries failed to meet the limits for at least one of the four major pollutants.
Spain was found to be the worst performer, failing to meet the targets for NMVOCs, NOx and ammonia, followed by Germany, which exceeded limits on NOx and NMVOCs. Meanwhile the UK, which recently admitted it is not meeting EU limits for airborne particulate matter (PM10), was among the 14 countries to meet all four limits in 2010.
EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade said the figures confirmed EU member states must do more to reduce air pollution. “These pollutants contribute to health problems and can also lead to economic losses and environmental damage,” she said.
According to the EEA, emissions from cars and other road transport are the likely cause for 11 countries’ failure to meet NOx targets, with reductions of emissions from this sector failing to meet expectations over the last 20 years. The EEA argues that the growth in vehicle ownership alongside emission standards not delivering the level of NOx reductions predicted, were to blame.
Look out for an article by Paul Suff on air pollution in the March 212 issue of the environmentalist