The agriculture sector in Europe is threatening the nature of revisions to the National Emissions Ceiling Directive, the European Environment Bureau has warned.
According to the EEB, the agricultural sector would like to see the ceiling targets for methane removed from the directive along with a potential watering down of targets for ammonia.
The cautionary note comes ahead of a vote on the Directive taking place on July 15 by the European Parliamentâ€™s Environment Committee. The Directive was introduced in 2001Â and sets upper limits for each Member State for the total emissions in 2010 of the four pollutants responsible for acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone pollution
The National Emissions Ceiling Directive forms one of three legislative strands covering air quality and emissions. Ambient air is subject to the Ambient Air Quality Directive, which sets limits on the concentration of pollutants while source pollution is covered by Euro standards, such as for vehicles.
And, as part of its lobbying work ahead of the vote, the Bureau has created an online, interactive tool called the Air-o-Meter which assesses the impact of the different options on human health, the economy and the environment.
Louise Duprez, senior policy officer for air quality and noise at the EEB, said: â€œThe Air-o-Meter shows that action to improve air quality is worth every cent. The benefits always outweigh the costs. The more ambitious our politicians are in cutting air pollution, the greater the benefits for our health, for nature and for the economy.â€
The Air-o-Meter uses a mix of data from the impact assessment in the European Commissionâ€™s proposal and additional data from the consultants who carried out the Commissionâ€™s impact assessment.
Data in the Air-o-Meter is available for every EU country and for the EU as a whole, for four different scenarios and for 2020, 2025 and 2030. The results are expressed in the expected number of premature deaths caused by air pollution in a particular year, the monetised benefits of implementing each scenario for a certain year, the economic costs to implement each scenario for a certain year and the amount of nature which would still be at risk from air pollution in a particular year.
Expanding on the Emissions Ceiling proposals, Sebastien Plant, the EEBâ€™s communications officer for air quality explained that the Directive sets limits to the amount of pollution every EU country can emit on a yearly basis.
He added that the EEB would like to see a more ambitious directive. â€œWhat is currently proposed will cut the number of premature deaths but by nowhere near enough. It is still a long way off from what is technically feasible.â€
After the European Council vote it is expected that in an unusual move, the entire parliament will vote on the plans in early September. This could see a strong endorsement of the Ceiling plans before tripartite discussions start up involving the Commission, the Council of Minister and the Eruopean Parlieament.
European Environment Bureau