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Air Quality EU flag air pollution

Published on June 18th, 2014 | by James Ayre

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EU Air Pollution Limits Exceeded By 11 Member States During 2012, EEA Confirms — Germany, France, And Ireland Among Them

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June 18th, 2014 by  

A significant number of notable EU member states exceeded air pollution limits in 2012, the European Environment Agency (EEA) recently revealed.

Included among those that exceeded the legal limits are Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Not exactly insignificant players in the region. The other member states to exceed the legal limits in 2012 were Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta.

EU flag air pollutionImage Credit: EU Flag via Flickr CC

Somewhat humorously, despite the fact that the UK is currently under threat of EU legal action over its air quality, it’s among the member states that’s “on track to comply with the rules.” The “rules” in this case being the limits set by the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD). (Of course that’s not to say that the UK doesn’t have an air pollution problem.)

Business Green provides more:

In an update to provisional figures initially released in March, the EEA examined four different pollutants: sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3), and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC).

The most commonly breached ceiling was for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, with nine Member States exceeding their designated levels, primarily due to emissions from road transport. Denmark and Finland exceeded the limit for ammonia, along with Spain, which also emitted too much NOx. Luxembourg was the other country to breach the ceiling for two categories, also contravening NMVOC levels. All 27 Member States met the sulphur dioxide limits.

As the EEA noted in a recent statement: “Air pollutant emissions have decreased over the last decades, but some are still being emitted above legal limits in the EU, in particular nitrogen dioxides.”

Presumably — with renewables and electric cars expected to gain market share in the EU over the next couple of decades — such emissions will begin to fall regardless of whether or not tighter regulations are put in place (and met), but hard to say.

With the impending end of the EU’s own fossil fuel reserves, though, perhaps other factors will lead to decreased levels of pollution…

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



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  • A Real Libertarian

    So Fallout Boys, where are you?

    This totally proves Germany is failing and using more coal then ever and nukes are the only thing that can save us like France and blah-blah-blah.

  • No way

    A correction is needed here since Sweden has not exceeded its air pollution limits.

  • Rick Kargaard

    I would like to know how emission levels are measured?

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