Thursday, July 28, 2011

Double Jeopardy

Now I'm really worried. Politicians looking for quick fixes may take take the results from the report noted in the post below to justify manufacturing an economic downturn to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and then feel compelled to manufacture a war to get us out of the recession. (GW)

Report: Recession helped clean Europe’s air

28 July 2011

Air pollution plunged across Europe in 2009 as reduced energy demand lowered emissions from public power plants in countries such as Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Spain, new research shows.


The Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution aims to limit and, as far as possible, gradually reduce and prevent air pollution, including long-range transboundary air pollution.

The 51 Parties of the Convention, including the EU, are obliged to report emissions data for a large number of air pollutants. The main air pollutants can have serious negative effects on human health and the environment.

The European Environment Agency assists the EU by preparing the emissions inventory to be reported under the LRTAP Convention each year. It also provides an air pollutant emissions data viewer, showing emission trends and country comparisons for the main sectors and activities.

The drop was steepest for sulphur oxides (SOx), with emissions plummeting by 21% between 2008 and 2009.

But emissions of other key pollutants from the electricity generating sector also tailed off, with nitrogen oxides (NOx) and primary particulate matter (PM) emissions both falling by around 10%.

High concentrations of NOx can cause inflammation of the airways and reduced lung function. PM is also harmful to the respiratory system.

The report by the EU's air pollutant emission inventory, which is compiled by the European Environment Agency (EEA), cautions that despite the improvement in 2009, European air quality can still be quite low, particularly in cities.

But the figures in the inventory, prepared for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Convention, seem to confirm a long-term decline for most air pollutants.

Since 1990, SOx emissions in the EU have fallen by 80%, carbon monoxide (CO) emissions by 62%, non-methane volatile organic compounds by 55%, and NOx by 44%.

The introduction of three‑way catalytic converters in passenger cars and stricter regulation of emissions from heavy goods vehicles also contributed to a fall of 42% in road transport NOx emissions.

But the road sector remains the most potent source of NOx and CO, contributing 42% and 34% respectively to the EU totals for 2009.

A recent EEA report found that NOx emissions in the EU in 2010 were expected to exceed a limit set by the National Emission Ceilings Directive by 17% - with ten member states set to miss it altogether.

NOx emissions from domestic and international aviation have also soared by 79% since 1990, although between 2008 and 2009 these fell by 6%.

Large percentages of pollutants such as NOx from road transport come from 'diffuse' sources, and can be emitted over large areas by indistinct sources that are difficult to abate.

The report notes the difficulty of compiling and comparing emission estimates for EU member states when governments do not report complete data.


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