Ten EU nations ‘continue to breach air pollutant emission limits’

The transport and agriculture sectors in 10 EU Member States are still emitting air pollutants above legal limits, new data reveals.

Under the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD), EU Member States have individual air pollutant emission limits or “ceilings”, which restrict emissions for four air pollutants: Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3).

New preliminary 2014 data and final statistics for 2010/13 published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) reveal 10 Member States have “persistently exceeded” their respective emission ceilings for NOx (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg), NMVOCs (Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg) and NH3 (Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain).

It adds the main reasons for exceeding the limits are emissions from road transport (NOx) and agriculture (NH3).

Emissions from road transport contribute around 40% of the EU-28 total emissions, one of the main reasons for the large number of NOx exceedances since 2010.

Around 94% of NH3 emissions stem from agriculture, mainly from the handling of animal manure and the use of fertilisers.

The EU as a whole however did not exceed its emission ceilings for any of the four air pollutants in 2014.