International treaty takes off towards cleaner air

The amended Gothenburg Protocol enters into force today, marking an important step towards protecting human health, ecosystems and the climate from dangerous pollutants.  

The protocol sets binding emission reduction targets for five air pollutants – sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, ammonia and fine particulate matter – to be achieved by 2020. Promoted by the United Nations, the protocol has been accepted by 19 parties, including the European Union, and 15 EU member states. The countries where the protocol is entering into force are Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

The entry into force opens a review phase for the parties to evaluate the effectiveness of the protocol, which is expected to lead to its revision and strengthening. This could include an extension of the scope of the protocol, with the addition of binding reduction targets for harmful pollutants, such as methane, black carbon and mercury.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcome the entry into force, arguing that the EU has a key role to play.

Margherita Tolotto, Air and Noise Policy Officer at the EEB, said:

The EU and its member states should further tackle dangerous emissions and commit to reducing additional pollutants. This will deliver both air quality and climate benefits: premature deaths will be avoided and health and environmental costs will be reduced. This is a clear opportunity for the European Commission to put into practice its announced engagement towards a ‘zero-pollution ambition’”.

In 2013, the European Commission estimated the total health-related external costs of air pollution at between €330 and €940 billion per year.

A revision and strengthening of the protocol will also deliver a further reduction of long-range transboundary emissions from non-EU countries affecting member states.

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ groups with 150 members in more than 30 countries.

For more information:

Roberta Arbinolo, Communications Officer

roberta.arbinolo@eeb.org

+32 2 89 72 267