The Council and the European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on a directive to reduce emissions of five air pollutants, by setting stricter national limits from 2030 onwards. The European Parliament is expected to vote it in the autumn. These air pollutants are sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, ammonia and fine particulate matter.
The new directive includes the current national emission limits from 2020 to 2029 already committed for each of these pollutants in the revised Gothenburg protocol. However, during this period, the indicative emission levels for 2025 will be identified for each EU Member State. These emission levels will be compared towards the emission limits that will apply from 2030. If any deviation is observed from the planned trajectory in any Member State, they will have to give appropriate justifications and explain the action that they will intend to take to adjust the level before the limits.
Background information on pollutants and their effects on health can be found in the Air Quality Guidelines of the WHO and information on other air pollution effects and data can be obtained from the EEA.
With the new commitments, the health impact of air pollution is estimated to be reduced by about 50% in 2030 (compared to 2005).
Sharon Dijksma, Dutch Minister for the Environment and president of the Council said “With this directive we will combat air pollution, a killer that annually causes over 400 000 premature deaths. The reduction of emissions of certain pollutants will ensure substantial health benefits. I am very pleased that after years of negotiations we were able to reach this agreement on the last day of the Dutch presidency, for all the people in Europe“.