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Stricter requirements to air pollution in Europe

04-05-2012 18:36:00

The Danish Minister for the Environment, Ida Auken, is satisfied with a new international agreement that sets stricter requirements to air pollution across the borders of Europe. The agreement reaches until 2020.

Air pollution in Europe has to be reduced. A number of countries have therefore reached an agreement today in Geneva on stricter requirements for reduction of air pollution towards 2020. The new reduction targets are set for the emission of ammonia from agriculture, emission of particulate matter, sulphur and nitrogen oxides from transport and industry and the emission of volatile organic compounds from e.g. paint.

The agreement was adopted by the Parties to the so-called Gothenburg Protocol which covers the entire European continent and USA and Canada. The revised protocol will reduce the emissions of the air pollutants with up to 60% in EU by  2020.

- The air in Europe will be cleaner. The agreement is an important step towards reducing the massive human health effects, environmental and societal cost connected with air pollution. I am very satisfied that we managed to reach agreement to reduce air pollution with firm obligations towards 2020 during the Danish EU Presidency, says the Council chair, Ida Auken.

New commitment to get cleaner air

The novelty of the agreement are reduction commitments for countries to reduce the small particles PM2.5 that are emitted from industry, transport and domestic combustion. A number of countries behind the agreement had already committed themselves to reduce air pollution towards 2010. The new agreement is in place until 2020. At the same time there is an expectation that the Russian Federation, Ukraine and more Eastern European countries outside the EU will also commit themselves to binding reduction targets as a result of the agreement.

- Air pollution is trans-boundary. Therefore it is important that as many European countries as possible commit themselves to reduce air pollution. Up to 80 per cent of the particle pollution in Denmark comes from other countries. We have won a small victory for cleaner air. But the challenge is not yet over. The next step is that in 2013 - that will be the "year of air" - we in the EU will start negotiating new requirements to reduce the national air emissions and improve the air quality,  Ida Auken says.

The agreement means that the EU Member States in the period 2005-2020 as a total will reduce sulphur with 59 %, ammonia with 6 %, nitrogen oxide with 43 %, volatile organic compounds with 28 % and particles with 23 %.

More information:

Carsten Møberg Larsen, Deputy Head of Department, Danish Environmental Protection Agency, phone +45 25 44 12 03, email: cml@mst.dk

Mette Thorn, Head of Press, Danish Environmental Ministry, phone: +45 25 61 71 70, email: mthor@mim.dk