Air pollution: agriculture and transport emissions continue to pose problems in meeting agreed limits

17 July 2018

Article: 52/2808

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a briefing presenting the progress made by the EU and its member states in meeting the emission ceilings that have been applicable since 2010, as set out in the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive.

Since 2010, EU legislation has restricted the emissions of four key air pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3). The EEA briefing finds that six EU member states exceeded the ceilings for one or more pollutants in 2016:

  • Austria and Ireland exceeded their ceilings for NOx and NH3
  • Croatia, Germany and Spain exceeded their ceiling for NH3
  • Hungary exceeded its ceiling for NMVOCs

A further EEA report on updated data from the annual EU emission inventory report 1990-2016, shows that for the third consecutive year ammonia emissions have increased — by 0.4% between 2015 and 2016. The overwhelming majority of NH3 emissions come from Europe’s agriculture sector. Emissions increased in 15 EU member states with Italy, the United Kingdom and Ireland reporting the highest increases.

In general, the road transport sector is the largest contributor to total nitrogen dioxide emissions in the EU, while fuel combustion in the commercial, institutional and households sector is the largest contributor to total primary particulate matter emissions, particularly in some eastern European countries.

Source: EEA, 9 July 2018