Category Archives: Air pollution

Apart from fighting the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, a key objective of environmental legislation is to improve the quality of our air, the pollution of which has repercussions in particular on people’s health and, in the form of phenomena such as acidification and eutrophication, on the environment. European policies are targeting the various types – and sources – of pollutant. Also, in 2005 the Commission proposed a thematic strategy for reducing the number of deaths linked to air pollution by 40% (of 2000 levels) by 2020

Pure air for Europe

Pure air for Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Pure air for Europe

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Pure air for Europe

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.

Summary

This Directive lays down measures aimed at the following:

  • defining and establishing objectives for ambient air quality * designed to reduce harmful effects on health and the environment;
  • assessing the ambient air quality in Member States on the basis of common methods and criteria;
  • collating information on ambient air quality in order to monitor long-term trends, in particular;
  • ensuring that such information on ambient air quality is made available to the public;
  • maintaining air quality where it is good and improving it in other cases;
  • promoting increased cooperation between the Member States in reducing air pollution.

Member States shall designate the competent authorities and bodies responsible for evaluating the quality of ambient air, approving measurement systems, ensuring the accuracy of measurements, analysing assessment methods and cooperating with other Member States and the Commission.

Air quality assessment

This Directive establishes a system for the assessment of ambient air quality in relation to sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2,5), lead, benzene and carbon monoxide as well as ozone.

Member States shall establish areas or zones (urban, suburban, rural, rural background) throughout their territory, and assess and manage the air quality.

This Directive sets thresholds for assessment for each pollutant, criteria for the assessment method (in particular the siting of sampling points), reference methods for measurement, limit values * for the protection of human health and the environment, the target and the obligation of reducing exposure for the population to PM2,5, information thresholds * and alert thresholds *, critical levels * for the protection of vegetation and the list of information to be included in action plans for improvement in air quality.

Each Member State shall set up at least one measuring station and may, by agreement with adjoining Member States, set up one or several common measuring stations.

Air quality management and action plans

Where the levels of pollutants in ambient air are below the limit values specified in this Directive, Member States shall maintain the levels of those pollutants below the limit values and shall endeavour to preserve the best ambient air quality, compatible with sustainable development.

Where, in given zones or agglomerations, the levels of pollutants in ambient air exceed any limit value or target value *, plus any relevant margin of tolerance in each case, Member States shall ensure that air quality plans are established for those zones and agglomerations in order to achieve the predefined limit value or target value.

In the event of exceedances of those limit values for which the attainment deadline is already expired, the air quality plans shall set out appropriate measures, so that the exceedance period can be kept as short as possible and can include additional specific measures to protect sensitive population groups. Measures similar to those laid down in short-term action plans may be considered.

Where there is a risk that the levels of pollutants will exceed the alert thresholds, Member States shall draw up action plans indicating the measures to be taken in the short term in order to reduce the risk or its duration. These actions plans can in particular suspend activities which contribute to the risk of exceedance (motor-vehicle traffic, construction works, the use of industrial plants etc.). In addition, these action plans may include specific measures aimed at the protection of sensitive population groups, in particular children.

Where thresholds are exceeded due to transboundary transport of air pollutants, the Member States concerned shall cooperate and coordinate their work in order to remove the exceedance.

Public information

Member States shall ensure that up-to-date information on ambient concentrations of the pollutants covered by this Directive is routinely made available to the public and the bodies concerned. Where alert thresholds and information thresholds are exceeded, Member States shall publish:

  1. information on the exceedance or exceedances observed (place, type of threshold, time and duration of the exceedance, highest concentration observed);
  2. forecasts for the following hours and days;
  3. information on the type of population concerned, possible health effects and recommended behaviour;
  4. information on preventative measures and measures to reduce the emissions.

Member States shall also make available to the public annual reports for all pollutants covered by this Directive.

Penalties

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

Context

This Directive repeals and replaces Directive 96/62/EC on ambient air quality assessment and management, Directive 1999/30/EC relating to limit values for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead in ambient air, Directive 2000/69/EC relating to limit values for benzene and carbon monoxide in ambient air, Directive 2002/3/EC relating to ozone in ambient air and Decision 97/101/EC establishing a reciprocal exchange of information and data on air pollution within the Member States.

Key Terms of the Act
  • Ambient air: outdoor air in the troposphere, excluding workplaces as defined by Directive 89/645/EEC.
  • Limit value: a level fixed on the basis of scientific knowledge, with the aim of avoiding, preventing or reducing harmful effects on human health and/or the environment as a whole, to be attained within a given period and not to be exceeded once attained.
  • Target value: a level fixed with the aim of avoiding, preventing or reducing harmful effects on human health and/or the environment as a whole, to be attained where possible over a given period.
  • Information threshold: a level beyond which there is a risk to human health from brief exposure for particularly sensitive sections of the population and for which immediate and appropriate information is necessary.
  • Alert threshold: a level beyond which there is a risk to human health from brief exposure for the population as a whole and at which immediate steps are to be taken by the Member States.
  • Critical level: a level fixed on the basis of scientific knowledge, above which direct adverse effects may occur on some receptors, such as trees, other plants or natural ecosystems but not on humans.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2008/50/EC [adoption COD/2005/0183]

11.6.2008

10.6.2010

OJ L 152 of 11.6.2008

Petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of vehicles

Petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of vehicles

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of vehicles

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of vehicles

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2009/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on Stage II petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of motor vehicles at service stations.

Summary

This Directive aims at ensuring that harmful petrol vapour displaced from the fuel tank of a motor vehicle during refuelling at a service station is recovered. The petrol pumps of many service stations in the European Union (EU) will have to be equipped to recover this vapour.

Service stations

This Directive applies to new service stations or those having undergone major refurbishment, of which the annual throughput must be in excess of 500 m3 of petrol. It imposes upon operators of these service stations an obligation to install a Stage II Petrol Vapour Recovery system or “Stage II PVR”. Furthermore, service stations with a throughput in excess of 100 m3 per year which are located under living accommodation must also install this equipment.

Larger existing service stations with a throughput in excess of 3 000 m3 per year must also apply Stage II PVR by 2018.

Stage II PVR equipment has already been installed in service stations in almost 50 % of the Member States. This Directive extends this practice to the whole European Union.

Minimum level of petrol vapour recovery

The Stage II PVR equipment installed on petrol pumps in service stations must capture 85 % of petrol vapour. The petrol vapour capture efficiency of such systems must be certified by the manufacturer in accordance with the relevant European technical standards or type approval procedures or, if there are no such standards or procedures, with any relevant national standard.

Stage II PVR equipment draws off petrol vapour. It is then transferred to a storage tank at the service station. The vapour/petrol ratio shall be equal to or greater than 0.95 but less than or equal to 1.05.

Periodic checks

The petrol vapour capture efficiency of Stage II petrol vapour recovery systems must be tested at least once a year. This test may be carried out either by checking the vapour/petrol ratio defined above under simulated petrol flow conditions, or by any other appropriate methodology.

If the service station has automatic monitoring equipment, capture efficiency shall be tested at least once every three years. If the tests detect anomalies, the service station operator must rectify the fault within seven days.

Consumer information

All service stations which have installed Stage II petrol vapour recovery systems must inform consumers thereof. In order to do this, the operator may place a sign, sticker or other notification on, or in the vicinity of, the petrol dispenser.

Context

This Directive comes under the Sixth Environment Action Programme adopted in July 2002 which established the need to reduce air pollution to levels which minimise harmful effects on human health and the environment.

This Directive supplements the technical specifications for the storage of petrol. These technical specifications are harmonised at European level by Directive 94/63/EC which forms Stage I of petrol vapour recovery.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2009/126/EC

31.10.2009

1.1.2012

OJ L 285 of 31.10.2009

Air pollution

Air pollution

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Air pollution

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Air pollution

Apart from fighting the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, a key objective of environmental legislation is to improve the quality of our air, the pollution of which has repercussions in particular on people’s health and, in the form of phenomena such as acidification and eutrophication, on the environment. European policies are targeting the various types – and sources – of pollutant. Also, in 2005 the Commission proposed a thematic strategy for reducing the number of deaths linked to air pollution by 40% (of 2000 levels) by 2020.

AIR QUALITY

  • Pure air for Europe
  • Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution

ATMOSPHERIC POLLUTION

  • National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants
  • Substances affecting the ozone layer
  • Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution
  • Protocol on Heavy Metals
  • Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
  • Recovery of petrol vapours during storage
  • Petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of vehicles

LAND MOTOR VEHICLES

All motor vehicles

  • Emissions from heavy duty vehicles (Euro VI): certification rules
  • “Green” vehicles: a European strategy
  • Reduction of pollutant emissions from light vehicles
  • Quality of petrol and diesel fuels: sulphur and lead
  • EU strategy for biofuels

Road vehicles

  • Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from light commercial vehicles
  • Reduction in CO? emissions of new passenger cars
  • Clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles
  • Passenger car related taxes
  • Information on the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of new cars
  • Emissions from air conditioning systems in motor vehicles

Off road vehicles

  • Non-road mobile machinery: gaseous pollutants
  • Pollutant gases of wheeled agricultural or forestry tractors

OTHER VEHICLES

  • Aviation and climate change
  • Clean Sky
  • Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships

INDUSTRY

  • Industrial emissions
  • Integrated pollution prevention and control (until 2013)
  • Pollutants from large combustion plants
  • Reducing the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Pollutants from large combustion plants

Pollutants from large combustion plants

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Pollutants from large combustion plants

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Pollutants from large combustion plants

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2001/80/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants [See amending acts].

Summary

This Directive applies to combustion plants (technical apparatus in which fuels are oxidised in order to use the heat thus generated) with a rated thermal input equal to or greater than 50 MW, irrespective of the type of fuel used (solid, liquid or gaseous).

Its purpose is to limit the amount of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust emitted from large combustion plants each year.

It encourages the combined production of heat and electricity (cogeneration).

Combustion plants authorised between 1 July 1983 and 27 November 2002 and brought into operation no later than 27 November 2003 must comply with the emission limit values laid down in Part A of Annexes III to VII for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust.

Plants authorised after 27 November 2002 must comply with the emission limit values laid down in Part B of Annexes III to VII for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust.

The Directive also requires significant cuts in emissions at “existing plants”, i.e. plants authorised before 1 July 1987. These cuts are to be achieved by 1 January 2008:

  • by achieving compliance, plant by plant, with the emission limits applicable to plants authorised between 1 July 1983 and 27 November 2002 (Part A of Annexes III to VII), or
  • through a national emission reduction plan applicable to the total emissions of the plants it covers.

Member States must send the Commission their national emission reduction plan for existing plants by no later than 27 November 2003. These plans must contain objectives, measures and timetables for attaining them, and a monitoring mechanism. The Commission must publish guidelines to help the Member States draw up their national plans.

The Directive allows existing plants to be exempted from compliance with the emission limits and from inclusion in the national emission reduction plan on condition that the operator undertakes not to operate the plant for more than 20 000 hours between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2015.

In addition, the Directive authorises derogations from compliance with the emission limit values for plants which burn specific types of fuel.

Member States must ensure that waste gases from combustion plants are discharged via stacks high enough to safeguard human health and the environment.

The methods for measuring emissions and the frequency of monitoring are set out in Annex VIII to the Directive. The same Annex contains the rules on establishing and keeping emission inventories for large combustion plants.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2001/80/EC 27.11.2001 27.11.2002 OJ L 309 of 27.11.2001
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Acts concerning the accession of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia 1.5.2004 OJ L 236 of 23.9.2003
Directive 2006/105/EC 1.1.2007 1.1.2007 OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

Related Acts

Proposal of 21 December 2007 for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (Recast) [COM(2007) 844 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Decision 2003/507/EC of 13 June 2003 on the accession of the European Community to the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone [Official Journal L 179 of 17.7.2003].
This Protocol seeks to cut emissions of sulphur, NOx, NH3 and VOC caused by human activity and capable of damaging human health and the environment through processes of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation resulting from long-range transboundary transport.

Commission Recommendation 2003/47/EC of 15 January 2003 on the guidelines to assist a Member State in the preparation of a national emission reduction plan further to the provisions of Directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of certain pollutants into the air from large combustion plants [Official Journal L 16 of 22.1.2003].

Recovery of petrol vapours during storage

Recovery of petrol vapours during storage

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Recovery of petrol vapours during storage

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Recovery of petrol vapours during storage

Document or Iniciative

European Parliament and Council Directive 94/63/EC of 20 December 1994 on the control of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions resulting from the storage of petrol and its distribution from terminals to service stations [See amending acts].

Summary

This Directive covers to the operations, installations, vehicles and vessels used for storage, loading and transport of petrol from one terminal to another or from a terminal to a service station.

The Directive lays down harmonised technical specifications for the design and use of:

  • storage installations at terminals;
  • equipment for loading and unloading mobile containers at terminals;
  • mobile containers;
  • equipment for loading into storage installations at service stations.

Transitional periods are laid down for implementing these specifications.

Member States may maintain or require more stringent measures than those laid down in the Directive throughout their territory or in geographical areas where it is established that such measures are necessary for the protection of human health or the environment.

The Directive provides a procedure for adapting the Annexes to technical progress.

The reports on the implementation of this Directive are drawn up in accordance with the provisions of Council Directive 91/692/EEC of 23 December 1991.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 94/63/EC

20.01.1995

31.12.1995

OJ L 365 of 31.12.1994

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003

20.11.2003

OJ L 284 of 31.10.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008

11.12.2008

OJ L 311 of 21.11.2008

Related Acts

Directive 2009/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on Stage II petrol vapour recovery during refuelling of motor vehicles at service stations [Official Journal OJ L 285 of 31.10.2009].
This Directive aims at ensuring the recovering of harmful petrol vapours displaced from the fuel tank of a motor vehicle during refuelling at a service station. In a large number of European service stations petrol pumps must be fitted with a system to recover at least 85% of these vapours. These vapours contribute to the emission of atmospheric pollutants such as ground-level ozone and benzene, which are harmful to human health and the environment.

Reducing the emissions of volatile organic compounds

Reducing the emissions of volatile organic compounds

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Reducing the emissions of volatile organic compounds

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Reducing the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 1999/13/EC of 11 March 1999 on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in certain activities and installations [See amending acts].

Summary

The emissions of volatile organic compounds * (VOCs) in the atmosphere contribute to the formation of the tropospheric ozone (ozone in the lower atmosphere). Large quantities of this ozone may be harmful to people, vegetation, forests and crops. Sensitive people may suffer irritation of the throat and eyes, as well as respiratory difficulties. Tropospheric ozone is also a greenhouse gas.

Scope

The Directive covers emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from certain activities and installations listed in Annex I.

Requirements of installations

Member States must take the necessary measures to ensure that all new installations comply with the provisions of the Directive. Moreover, all new installations not already covered by the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC) must be registered or authorised before being put into service.

Existing installations must be registered or authorised if they have not yet been authorised under the IPPC Directive. They must comply with the same requirements as for new installations no later than 30 October 2007. Where part of an existing installation undergoes a substantial change, it must comply with the requirements applicable to new installations.

Requirements

The industrial operators concerned can conform to the specified emission limits in either of the following ways:

  • by installing equipment to reduce emissions to comply with the emission limit values and the fugitive emission values, or total emission limit values;
  • by introducing a reduction scheme to arrive at an equivalent emission level, in particular by replacing conventional products which are high in solvents with low-solvent or solvent-free products.

Solvents or mixtures likely to have a serious effect on human health because of their content of VOCs (classified as carcinogens, mutagens, or toxic to reproduction), must be replaced by less harmful substances or mixtures.

National plans

Member States may define and implement national plans for reducing emissions from the activities and industrial installations covered by Article 1 (excluding surface cleaning and dry cleaning activities). The plans must result in a reduction of the annual emissions of VOCs by at least the same amount and within the same time-frame as would have been achieved by applying the emission limits under the Directive.

The national plan must include:

  • a list of the measures taken or to be taken;
  • binding interim reduction targets against which progress towards the aim can be measured;
  • a full description of the range of instruments through which its requirements will be achieved, evidence that these instruments will be enforceable and details of the means by which compliance with the plan will be demonstrated.

Substitution

The Commission must ensure that an exchange of information between Member States and the activities concerned on the use of organic substances and their potential substitutes takes place.

It must consider the potential effects of organic substances on human health in general and occupational exposure in particular. Their potential effects on the environment and the economic consequences will also be examined with a view to providing recommendations on the use of techniques which have the least potential effects on air, water, soil, ecosystems and human health.

Following the exchange of information, the Commission must publish recommendations for each activity.

Monitoring

The Member States must take the necessary measures to ensure that the public has access to information concerning:

  • applications for authorisation for new installations or for substantial changes to installations,
  • the decision of the competent authority, including at least a copy of the authorisation, and any subsequent updates,
  • the general binding rules applicable to installations and the list of registered and authorised activities,
  • the results of emission-monitoring as required under the authorisation or registration conditions.

Reports

Every three years, Member States must submit a report to the Commission on the implementation of the Directive.

Context

This Directive complements the provisions adopted under the framework of the Auto-Oil Programme (Directives relating to emissions in the atmosphere from cars and lorries with internal combustion engines and Directive 94/63/EC relating to volatile organic compound emissions resulting from the storage of petrol).

Key terms of the Act
  • Organic compound: any compound containing at least the element carbon and one or more of the following elements: hydrogen, halogens, oxygen, sulphur, phosphorus, silicon or nitrogen, with the exception of carbon oxides and inorganic carbonates and bicarbonates;
  • Volatile organic compound: any organic compound emanating from human activities, other than methane, which are capable of producing photochemical oxidants by reacting with nitrogen oxide in the presence of sunlight. having at 293,15 K a vapour;
  • Organic solvent: any VOC which is used alone or in combination with other agents, and without undergoing a chemical change, to dissolve raw materials, products or waste materials, or is used as a cleaning agent to dissolve contaminants, or as a dissolver, dispersion medium, viscosity adjuster, surface tension adjuster, plasticiser, or a preservative.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 1999/13/EC

29.3.1999

30.3.2001

Official Journal L 85 of 29.3.1999

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003

20.11.2003

Official Journal L 284 of 31.10.2003

Directive 2004/42/EC

30.04.2004

30.10.2005

Official Journal L 143 of 30.04.2003

Directive 2008/112/EC

12.1.2009

OJ L 345 of 23.12.2008

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 1999/13/EC have been integrated in the original text. This consolidated versionis of documentary value only.

Related Acts

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 December 2007 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control) (recast) [COM(2007) 844 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The new Directive shall fill the gaps in existing legislation concerning industrial emissions. By reducing this type of emissions, it shall bring about significant improvements to health and the environment. The new Directive shall:

  • encourage the implementation of the Best Available Techniques;
  • establish more stringent emission limit values for certain sectors across the EU;
  • introduce minimum rules for environmental inspections of industrial installations;
  • extend the scope of the legislation to other polluting activities not covered by current legislation;
  • enable a more effective permit review;
  • amalgamate the current IPPC Directive and the six sectoral directives included in the Directive on waste incineration into one sole directive on industrial emissions.

Co-decision procedure (COD/2007/286)

Directive 2004/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in decorative paints and varnishes and vehicle refinishing products and amending Directive 1999/13/EC.
The Directive aims to prevent the negative environmental effects of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from decorative paints and vehicle refinishing products. It lays down maximum limits for the VOC content of these products. The sub-categories of the relevant products are listed in Annex I to the proposal.
Product categories falling within the scope of the Directive can be marketed in the EU only if they comply with the specifications in Annex II. Such products must be labelled when placed on the market. Member States will develop a market surveillance system to verify the VOC content of the products covered by this Directive.
Each Member State will designate an authority to be responsible for ensuring conformity with the provisions of the Directive. A system of effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties should be established for infringements.
Table 1 in the Directive shows estimates of VOC emissions by sector and source for 2010. According to Commission studies, this Directive could help to reduce VOC emissions by 280 kilotonnes per year until 2010.

National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

National emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants [See amending act(s)].

Summary

This Directive has been adopted in line with the 1997 communication concerning the strategy to combat acidification, which sought to establish, for the first time, national emission ceilings for certain pollutants.

Scope

This Directive covers emissions in the territory of the Member States and their exclusive economic zones from four pollutants which arise as a result of human activities:

  • emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2),
  • emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx),
  • emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), and
  • emissions of ammonia (NH3).

These pollutants are responsible for the phenomena of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation (also called “bad ozone”, present at low altitude, as opposed to stratospheric ozone), irrespective of the sources of pollution.

National emission ceilings

This Directive provides for the introduction of national emission ceilings by the end of 2010 at the latest. These ceilings are laid down in Annex I to the Directive.

Interim environmental objectives

The purpose of the emission ceilings is broadly to meet the following interim environmental objectives:

  • the areas with critical loads of acid depositions will be reduced by at least 50% compared with 1990;
  • ground-level ozone loads above the critical level for human health will be reduced by two-thirds compared with the 1990 situation. An absolute limit is also set. The guide value set by the World Health Organisation may not be exceeded on more than 20 days a year;
  • ground-level ozone loads above the critical level for crops and semi-natural vegetation will be reduced by one-third compared with 1990. An absolute limit is also set.

National programmes

Member States are required to draw up programmes, by 1 October 2002, for the progressive reduction of their annual national emissions. The programmes must be updated and revised as necessary in 2006. They must be made available to the public and to appropriate organisations and submitted to the Commission.

Emission inventories

Moreover, Member States must prepare and annually update national emission inventories and emission projections for SO2, NOx, VOC and NH3. These inventories and projections must be reported to the Commission and the European Environment Agency each year by 31 December at the latest.

Reports

The Commission must report (in 2004, 2008 and 2012) to the European Parliament and the Council on progress on the implementation of the ceilings and towards attaining the interim environmental objectives and the long-term objectives set by the Directive. These reports must contain an economic assessment of the implementation of the national emission ceilings, including cost-effectiveness, costs and benefits, impact on competitiveness and socio-economic impact in each Member State.

The Commission will report to the Council and the European Parliament on the extent to which emissions from international maritime traffic and aircraft contribute to acidification, eutrophication and the formation of ground-level ozone within the Community. It will also specify the action which could be taken to reduce emissions from these sectors.

Cooperation with third countries

Member States and the Commission shall cooperate with third countries and the international organisations concerned with the aim of exchanging information and making progress in research aiming to reduce emissions of SO2, NOx, VOC and NH3.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2001/81/EC

27.11.2001

27.11.2002

Official Journal 309 of 27.11.2001

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 219/2009

20.4.2009

OJ L 87 of 31.3.2009

Related Acts

Council Decision 2003/507/EC of 13 June 2003 on the accession of the European Community to the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone.

This Protocol seeks to cut emissions of sulphur, NOx, NH3 and VOC caused by human activity and capable of damaging human health and the environment through processes of acidification, eutrophication and tropospheric ozone formation resulting from long-range transboundary transport.

Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution

Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution

Act

Communication of 21 September 2005 from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution [COM(2005) 446 – Not published in the Official Journal]

Summary

In order to attain “levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on, and risks to human health and environment”, this Thematic Strategy supplements the current legislation. It establishes objectives for air pollution and proposes measures for achieving them by 2020: modernising the existing legislation, placing the emphasis on the most harmful pollutants, and involving to a greater extent the sectors and policies that may have an impact on air pollution.

Air Pollution

Air pollution seriously damages human health and the environment: respiratory problems, premature deaths, eutrophication * and damage to ecosystems as a result of the deposition of nitrogen and acidic substances are some of the consequences of this problem which is both local and transfrontier in nature.

The pollutants causing the greatest concern where public health is concerned are tropospheric ozone * and especially particulate matter * (in particular fine particles or PM2.5).

The objectives of the Strategy

The Strategy chosen sets health and environmental objectives and emission reduction targets for the main pollutants. These objectives will be delivered in stages, and will make it possible to protect EU citizens from exposure to particulate matter and ozone in air, and protect European ecosystems more effectively from acid rain, excess nutrient nitrogen, and ozone

When drawing up the Strategy, it was impossible to determine a level of exposure to particulate matter and tropospheric ozone that does not constitute a danger to human beings. However, a significant reduction in these substances will have beneficial effects in terms of public health, and will also generate benefits for ecosystems.

Compared with the situation in 2000, the Strategy sets specific long-term objectives (for 2020):

  • 47% reduction in loss of life expectancy as a result of exposure to particulate matter;
  • 10 % reduction in acute mortalities from exposure to ozone;
  • reduction in excess acid deposition of 74% and 39% in forest areas and surface freshwater areas respectively;
  • 43% reduction in areas or ecosystems exposed to eutrophication.

To achieve these objectives, SO2 emissions will need to decrease by 82%, NOx emissions by 60%, volatile organic compounds * (VOCs) by 51%, ammonia by 27%, and primary PM2.5 (particles emitted directly into the air) by 59% compared with the year 2000.

Implementing the Strategy will entail an incremental additional cost compared with spending on existing measures. This additional cost is likely to amount to EUR 7.1 billion per annum from 2020.

In terms of health, the savings that will be made as a result of the Strategy are estimated at EUR 42 billion per annum. The number of premature deaths should fall from 370 000 in 2000 to 230 000 in 2020 (compared with 293 000 in 2020 without the Strategy).

Where the environment is concerned, there is no agreed way to assign a monetary value to ecosystem damage or the likely benefits resulting from the Strategy. However, there should a be a favourable impact as a result of reducing acid rain and nutrient nitrogen inputs, resulting among other things in better protection for biodiversity.

Better European legislation on air quality

One of the crucial aspects in this respect is the simplification of legislation. A proposal to revise the legislation on air quality, which provides for merging the Framework Directive, the first, second, and third “Daughter Directives”, and the Exchange of Information Decision, is therefore attached to the Strategy.

It is proposed that the legislation on particulate matter should be supplemented by setting a limit value of 25 g/m³ for fine particles (PM 2.5) and an interim reduction target of 20% to be attained between 2010 and 2020.

The Strategy also makes provision for revising the legislation on national emission ceilings, extending, subject to strict conditions, certain deadlines for the implementation of legislative provisions, modernising data communication, and improving coherence with other environmental policies.

Integrating air quality concerns into the sectors concerned

More efficient energy use can help to reduce harmful emissions. The targets set concerning the production of energy and electricity from renewable energy sources (12% and 21% respectively by 2010) and concerning biofuels are major factors in this connection. The Strategy makes provision for possible extension of the IPPC Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive to small combustion plants. The establishment of standards for small heating installations is also envisaged through the new Energy-using Products Directive. The Strategy also provides for examining how to reduce VOC emissions at filling stations.

Turning to transport, the Strategy envisages new proposals concerning the reduction of emissions from new passenger cars and vans, and heavy-duty vehicles. In addition, it envisages improvements in vehicle approval procedures and other measures concerning the scope for differentiated charging, and older vehicles.

The Commission is also planning to examine the impact of aviation on climate change in a forthcoming communication. Where shipping is concerned, the Strategy provides for the continuation of negotiations in the context of the International Maritime Organisation, the promotion of shore-side electricity for ships in port, and the consideration of pollution issues in relation to funding through programmes such as Marco Polo.

Where agriculture is concerned, the strategy calls for measures to be promoted to reduce the use of nitrogen in animal feedingstuffs and fertilisers. The rules and proposals concerning rural development also provide for possible ways of reducing ammonia emissions from agricultural sources, in particular through farm modernisation. The ongoing reform of the rules relating to the cohesion instruments also includes proposals that will help to meet the objectives of the Strategy.

The Strategy also calls for air quality concerns to be taken into account in international forums and bilateral relations.

Background

The Strategy on Air Pollution is one of the seven thematic strategies provided for in the Sixth Environmental Action Programme adopted in 2002. It is the first of these strategies to be adopted formally by the Commission.

It is based on research carried under by the Clean Air For Europe (CAFE) programme and the successive research framework programmes, and was adopted following a lengthy consultation process involving the European Parliament, Non-Governmental Organisations and industry and private individuals.

Key terms used in the act
  • Eutrophication: Excess nutrient nitrogen (in the form of ammonia and nitrogen oxides) which disrupts plant communities, and leaches into fresh waters, leading in each case to a loss of biodiversity.
  • Tropospheric ozone: Ozone which is formed through chemical reactions between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of sunlight and which accumulates at low altitudes.
  • Particulate matter: Fine dust emitted by certain human activities (primary particles) or which are formed in the atmosphere (secondary particles) from gases such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3). Particles differ in size: large particles (PM10) are between 2.5 and 10
    m in diameter, while fine particles (PM2.5) are less than 2.5
    m in diameter.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Carbon-based chemical compounds emitted into the atmosphere from natural sources or as a result of human activities (e.g. the use of solvents, paints and varnishes, the storage of motor fuel and the use of motor fuel in filling stations, and vehicle exhaust gases).

Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships

Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, of 20 November 2002, “A European Union strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships” [COM (2002) 595 final, Volume I – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The strategy includes the above communication and a Directive on the sulphur content of marine fuels (see Related acts below).

Impact on environment and health

Emissions from seagoing ships include air pollutants, greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances entailing risks for human health and the environment. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from ships are responsible for acid deposition, which can be harmful to the environment, as well as particulate matter harmful to health. NOx and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone harmful to health and to the environment. NOx emissions contribute to environmentally damaging eutrophication. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions contribute to climate change. Halon emissions damage the ozone layer.

The communication contains a table showing emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from ships in Community waters in 2000 as well as projected emissions for 2010 and their environmental impact. Other figures show ships’ SO2 emissions in EU sea areas, the contributions of ships’ SO2 and NOx emissions to critical loads of acidity being exceeded, the role of NOx and COV emissions in the concentration of ground-level ozone in Europe and the role of ships’ emissions of NOx in exceeding the critical loads of nutrient nitrogen.

Preventive measures deployed

At the international level, Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention (adopted by the International Maritime Organisation in 1997, but not yet in force) sets regulations for the prevention of air pollution by ships. The Kyoto Protocol also calls for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

To date, the bulk of Community legislation on atmospheric emissions does not apply to ships. As a result, in the European Union, ship emissions are higher than other land-based transport emissions. For example, by 2010, SO2 emission from ships in European waters are likely to account for 75% of all emissions from EU land-based sources. There are, however, a number of Community measures requiring the Commission to take action on ship emissions:

  • Directive 2001/81/EC on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants commits the Commission to report on the extent to which emissions from maritime traffic contribute to acidification, eutrophication and the formation of ground-level ozone;
  • Directive 1999/32 relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels sets sulphur limits for marine distillate oil used in EU territorial waters;
  • Directive 94/63/EC on the control of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions resulting from the storage of petrol and its distribution from terminals to service stations [Official Journal L 365 of 31.12.1994] provides that the Commission must consider extending the scope of the Directive to include the loading and unloading of ships;
  • Regulation (EC) No 2037/2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer bans the marketing and use of ozone-depleting substances in the EU;
  • The Clean Air for Europe (CAFE) Programme tackles all sources of atmospheric emissions;
  • The sixth Environment Action Programme: one of the objectives of 6EAP is to achieve levels of air quality that do not have unacceptable effects on human health and the environment, and to stabilise greenhouse gases emissions in order to prevent unnatural variations of the earth’s climate.

In recent years, economic instruments have been introduced in some countries and ports around the world to encourage ships to reduce their atmospheric emissions. These include differential taxes on marine fuels, differentiated port and fairway dues, and differentiated tonnage taxes.

Strategy objectives and actions

The objectives of the strategy are:

  • to reduce ships’ emissions of SO2 where they contribute to critical loads for acidification being exceeded, and where they affect local air quality;
  • to reduce ships’ emissions of NOx where they contribute to critical loads for acidification and eutrophication being exceeded, and build-ups of ground-level ozone which affect health and the environment;
  • to reduce ships’ emissions of primary particles where these affect local air quality;
  • to reduce ships’ emissions of VOCs where these contribute to build-ups of ground-level ozone which affect health and the environment;
  • to reduce ships’ emissions of CO2;
  • to eliminate emissions of ozone-depleting substances from all ships operating in EU waters.

The communication outlines a number of actions to achieve these objectives, including:

  • coordinating the positions of EU Member States within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to press for tougher measures to reduce ship emissions. The entry into force of MARPOL Annex VI setting regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships is a fundamental aspect of the strategy;
  • adopting the proposal for a Directive amending Directive 1999/32/EC to limit the sulphur content of marine fuels (see Related acts below);
  • amending Directive 97/68/EC on NOx and PM emissions standards from non-road engines;
  • if the IMO has not proposed tighter international standards by 2007, to bring forward a proposal to reduce NOx emissions from seagoing vessels;
  • to remove, by 2010, the exemption which permits the use of halon on board existing cargo ships operating in EU waters;
  • although measures are not needed at the moment, to re-examine the possibility of proposing legislation in future to reduce VOC emissions from ship-loading;
  • to examine the use of a set of economic instruments providing incentives to reduce ships’ atmospheric emissions beyond regulatory requirements;
  • to launch a charging regime on the basis of ships’ environmental performance to benefit the least damaging;
  • to fund research into low-emission ship technologies;
  • to organise conferences on best practice in the field of ship emission reduction technologies.

Related Acts

Commission Recommendation 2006/339/EC of 8 May 2006 on the promotion of shore-side electricity for use by ships at berth in Community ports [Official Journal L 125 of 12.5.2006]

The Commission stresses that, if the present trend continues, maritime transport could be responsible for more pollution than land-based sources by 2020. It recommends Member States to install shore-side electricity for use by ships at berth in ports and to offer economic incentives to operators to use such electricity. According to experts, the supply of electricity to berths would significantly reduce emissions of particulate matter, VOCs, NOx and SO2. The Commission calls on Member States to work within the IMO to promote the development of harmonised international standards for shore-side electrical connections.


Directive 2005/33/EC

of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2005 amending Directive 1999/32/EC relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels [Official Journal L 191 of 22.07.2005]
This Directive extends the scope of Directive 1999/32/EC to all petroleum-derived liquid fuels used by ships operating within Member States’ waters. It provides for measures such as abolishing existing derogations for marine gas oils, enforcing the 1.5% limit on sulphur content in Emission Control Areas as defined by the International Maritime Organisation, applying the same limit to all passenger ships operating on schedules services to or from any Community port, requiring all ships at berth in Community ports to use a fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.1%, and allowing the use of approved emission abatement technologies as an alternative to using low-sulphur marine fuels.

Aviation and climate change

Aviation and climate change

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Aviation and climate change

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Air pollution

Aviation and climate change

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 27 September 2005: “Reducing the Climate Change Impact of Aviation” [COM(2005) 459 – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European Union (EU) is responsible for about half of the CO2 emissions generated by international air transport in developed countries. Air transport emissions are likely to increase rapidly in the future if there is no policy response in this area. This situation could compromise European objectives for combating climate change.

In this Communication, the Commission looks at new and existing means and instruments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the air transport sector.

Tapping the potential of existing policies

The Commission proposes continuing and extending research in aeronautics, particularly under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research. Research will focus on analysing the impact the air transport sector has on climate change and reducing the adverse effects of air transport, in particular CO2 and NOx emissions.

The Commission also suggests improving air traffic management, particularly by implementing the ” Single European Sky ” and SESAME initiatives. More efficient air traffic management should, among other things, enable aviation fuel consumption to be reduced.

Furthermore, in the area of fuel taxation, the Commission takes the view that Member States should eventually remove the exemption traditionally applied to the aviation sector. It is common practice for aviation fuel to be exempted from taxes. Directive 2003/96/EC allows for a fuel tax to be levied on domestic flights within Member States, but it is often impossible to tax fuel for international flights (including between Member States), because of the legally binding commitments made in air service agreements concluded between Member States and third countries. A large number of air service agreements will have to be renegotiated before fuel can be taxed irrespective of the air carrier’s country of origin. The process is under way, but will take time to complete. This option can therefore only be seen as a long-term solution.

The Commission also suggests improving the competitiveness of other transport sectors and raising public awareness of the impact air travel has on climate change.

Developing cost-effective economic instruments: emissions trading

In the Commission’s opinion, of the various economic instruments looked at, the most effective option is to include the air transport sector in the greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme which the EU set up in 2003 (see “Related Acts” below).

The system is based on the following principle: the regulatory authority sets a quantity limit on polluting emissions and divides this quantity among the economic operators producing these emissions, in this case the airlines. The limited pollution rights available give the operators an incentive to reduce their emissions or buy emission rights from other participants if they exceed their allotted limit.

The desired result is a significant reduction in polluting emissions. The large number of participants would also minimise the costs for the economic operators. Furthermore, the system is compatible with the international legal framework for aviation, and could therefore feasibly be extended to operate at international level, if adapted appropriately.

Certain aspects of this instrument remain to be clarified:

  • its scope: in order for the system to be effective in environmental terms, the best option would be for all flights departing from Community airports to be included;
  • how to adapt the existing Community system, which is linked to the accounting system set up by the Kyoto Protocol (covering CO2 emissions produced by domestic flights but not those produced by international flights);
  • how to take other environmental factors (particularly NOx emissions) into account if the system applies only to CO2 emissions.

As part of the European Climate Change Programme, the Commission intends to set up a special working group of experts from Member States and key stakeholder organisations (industry, consumer and environmental organisations). Its purpose will be to look at ways of integrating air transport effectively and efficiently into the European greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme.

The Commission also considered other economic options (a tax on airline tickets and other charges linked to emissions), but these were rejected for a number of reasons, as stated in the impact assessment attached to the Communication.

The European Union and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions

In spring 2005, on the basis of the Communication entitled Winning the Battle Against Global Climate Change, the European Parliament and the European Council reaffirmed the EU’s objective of ensuring that global surface temperatures do not rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and therefore of cutting greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible.

As part of the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme, the EU undertook to take specific action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation if no such action was agreed within the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the organisation responsible, by 2002. The ICAO has not adopted any such measures, but has endorsed the concept of emissions trading.

The air transport sector currently accounts for 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions. However, the rapid growth of this sector means that aviation could eventually become the main source of greenhouse gas emissions, despite improvements in aircraft energy efficiency. Between 1990 and 2003, greenhouse gas emissions from international air transport increased by 73% in the EU. If the sector continues to grow at the current rate, by 2012 emissions will have increased by 150% since 1990.

Related Acts

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 amending Directive 2003/87/EC so as to include aviation activities in the scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community [COM(2006) 818 final – not published in the Official Journal].
This proposal is designed to include aviation activities in the greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, and is to apply to all flights arriving at or departing from Community airports from 1 January 2012 (2011 for flights between EU airports). Aircraft operators will be responsible for complying with the obligations imposed by the scheme. It is also suggested that the process for allocating allowances should be harmonised across the EU, and that each aircraft operator, including operators from third countries, should be administered by one Member State only.


Directive 2003/87/EC

of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2003 establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community and amending Council Directive 96/61/EC [Official Journal L 275 of 25 October 2003].


Council Decision 2002/358/EC

of 25 April 2002 concerning the approval, on behalf of the European Community, of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the joint fulfilment of commitments thereunder [Official Journal L 130 of 15 May 2002].

Impact assessment

Commission Staff Working Document of 27 September 2005 – Annex to the Communication from the Commission “Reducing the Climate Change Impact of Aviation” – Impact Assessment [SEC(2005) 1184].