Improving air quality is a concern for European citizens and policymakers. The chemical industry supports comprehensive long-term strategies to manage air pollutants.
Improving air quality
In recent years, the EU chemicals industry has made significant efforts to reduce its emissions into the air.
According to E-PRTR (European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register) data and a Cefic analysis, emissions of total acidifying gases in the EU chemical industry, expressed in acid-equivalent, fell by 14 per cent over a five-year period after 2004, based on comparing the EU 25 of 2004 with the EU 27 of 2009.
The E-PRTR database on total emissions of acidifying gases covers ammonia, sulphur oxides, and nitrogen oxides. Analysis shows that ammonia registered the sharpest reduction in 2009 compared to 2007, followed by sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides.
Over the longer term, figures going back to 1990 show huge decreases for pollutants reported under the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP), and covering all manufacturing, agriculture, burning of fossil fuels, transport etc.
The chemical industry continues to invest in further reducing its emissions in line with the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED).
Cefic position on EU air policy
The EU thematic strategy on Air Pollution and Clean Air For Europe (CAFE) was established in 2005 to reduce adverse effects on health as a result of air pollutants. The strategy involves controls on fine particles, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, lead, benzene and carbon monoxide.
Early 2011, the Commission recognised a pressing need to focus on improving air quality in the EU. The Commission will focus on a number of immediate measures in 2011 and a more comprehensive review of the EU’s air policy by 2013 at the latest. The review will also include a revision of the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC Directive). Cefic contributes to the work of the Commission’s expert group set up for the air policy review.
Investigating the complexity of air pollution requires an appropriate focus on potential pollutants and their sources as well as advanced modelling and analysis tools. Cefic encourages decision-makers to continue basing policies to improve air quality in Europe on comprehensive scientific information, taking a broad view on the environmental, technical and societal issues associated with air quality.