• Road transport blamed for failure to meet air quality limits

    The growth in road transport is leading to a majority of EU member states failing to meet their mandatory targets as set out in European air pollution legislation.

    The latest report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) on how the National Emissions Ceilings directive is being administered shows only 11 of the 27 EU members expecting to remain inside their pollution limits.

    Emissions of nitrogen oxides are the biggest problem. Even taking into account NOx control measures already in place, the EU’s emissions are projected to be 9% above the total allowed in all 27 states and 20% above the target for the EU as a whole (the EU’s target was set first, and some countries negotiated themselves a lower limit than originally proposed, but without other countries having to take on a higher limit, hence the discrepancy). Austria, Ireland and Spain are expected to miss their NOx targets by up to 50%, according to the EEA.

    The EEA and member states blame two factors: a higher-than-expected growth in road transport since the national ceilings were set, and the estimated gains from measures taken by the member states, such as city centre vehicle bans and emission controls, proving to be less effective than anticipated.
    The emissions ceilings directive sets specific limits, or ‘ceilings’, of four pollutants (SO2, NOx, VOCs, NH3) for all member states that have to be met by 2010.