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Gap to air quality goals narrowing

Fewer new measures will be needed to meet the EU’s 2030 air pollution targets than expected when the EU’s clean air package was proposed in 2013, new figures for the European Commission indicate.

There is greater potential to reduce PM2.5 emissions in particular, which also makes it easier to reduce emissions of other air pollutants, consultancy IIASA said.

The consultancy re-ran its modelling exercise that guided the Commission’s 2013 air quality package with updated figures from member states. These showed that more rapid developments in industrial processes and household heating had taken place than previously estimated.

Achieving the Commission’s target for reducing premature deaths caused by air pollution will now also be a third cheaper than previously estimated, according to the consultants.

The new figures show that about half of the cost-effective particulate matter equivalent emission reductions in 2030 were already achieved in 2012. This number will rise further to 60% if the EU meets targets set under the Gothenburg Protocol by 2020. The consultants argue there is a good chance of that happening.

Current legislation is expected to deliver 60% of the required cuts in PM2.5 emissions with a large part of the remainder delivered through the implementation of new EU legislation, including directives on medium combustion plants and non-road mobile machinery, the report said.

It predicts the necessary SO2 and NOx emission reduction to be largely achieved by the new legislation.

A recent study by the same consultants for the European Parliament found that the 2030 climate and energy targets agreed by EU leaders in October could make reaching the air pollution targets €5.5bn cheaper per year.

These findings did not factor in the new modelling, but it is likely that the predicted additional cuts in air pollutants would still apply, the report said.

Issue 39