Air quality: new stricter limits for pollutant emissions (UK)

Directive 2016/2284 of 14 December 2016 on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants sets out the commitments of each EU Member State to reduce emissions of five pollutants: sulfur dioxide (SO2 ), Nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), ammonia (NH3) and fine particles (PM2.5), applicable from 2020 to 2029 and from 2030 onwards. In order for these targets to be achieved, the Directive requires the establishment, adoption and implementation of national air pollution control programs and the monitoring and reporting of emissions of these pollutants. Member States are required to adopt the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 1 July 2018 at the latest.

1 / Establishment of national targets for the reduction of atmospheric emissions

The Directive requires EU Member States to reduce their air emissions in accordance with their national commitments set out in Annex II to the Directive (Article 4 (1) of Directive 2016/2284).

These emission reduction commitments concern the following pollutants:

Sulfate diozyde (SO2);
Nitrogen oxide (NOx);
Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs);
Ammonia (NH3);
The fine particles (PM2.5).

For each Member State, two emission reduction commitments are established: one for each year in the period 2020 to 2029 and the other applicable for each year from 2030. These commitments have as reference year the year 2015.  In the case of road transport, they apply to emissions calculated on the basis of the fuels sold.

Table A of Annex II contains commitments for reduction of SO2, NOx and NMVOCs.

Table B of Annex II contains commitments to reduce NH3 and PM2.5.

These commitments will apply from 2020. Therefore, the ceilings set by Directive 2001/81 / EC of 23/10/01 setting national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants will still be valid until 31 December 2019, when Directive 2001/81/EC will be repealed by Article 21 of Directive 2016/2284.

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Intermediate ceilings will have to be met by the Member States from 2025 for the aforementioned pollutants, unless this implies disproportionate costs. The indicative level of these emissions is determined by a linear reduction path between their emission levels defined by the 2020 emission reduction commitments and those set by the 2030 emission reduction commitments. Member States may follow a non-linear reduction path if it is more efficient from an economic or technical point of view.

2/ Establishment and implementation of national programs to combat air pollution

In order to fulfill their emission reduction commitments and to contribute effectively to the achievement of air quality objectives, Member States must adopt, implement and regularly update a national program for the reduction of air pollution, which must be communicated to the European Commission, which will monitor this document and update it (Article 6 of Directive 2016/2284).

National air pollution control programs should contain measures applicable to all relevant sectors, including agriculture, energy, industry, road transport, inland water transport, domestic heating and Non-road mobile machinery and solvents.

The content of these programs is set out in Annex III to Directive 2016/2284.

In developing these programs, Member States must take account of good practices in the control of the most harmful pollutants covered by Directive 2016/2284.

3 / Development of national emission inventories and national emission projections

Member States shall also draw up and update each year national emission inventories for the pollutants listed in Table A of Annex I to Directive 2016/2284 in accordance with the requirements set out therein.

The inventory must cover the five pollutants included in the aforementioned air emissions reduction program (SO2, NOX, NMVOCs, NH3 and PM2.5), together with carbon monoxide (CO), POPs (Persistent organic pollutants), certain heavy metals (Cd, Hg, Pb), cesium (CS), as well as PM10 particles.

Member States shall also be able to draw up and update each year national emission inventories for the pollutants listed in Table B of Annex I to the Directive in accordance with the requirements laid down therein.

National emissions from other heavy metals, such as As, Cr, Cu, Ni, Se and Zn and their compounds, as well as total suspended particulates, can also be the subject to national inventories.

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