Transboundary Air Pollution
Air pollutants do not respect borders. As the wind blows from place to place so does any pollutants that are in the air.
From time to time dust from the Sahara desert is transported to Ireland on the wind and, in the same way, air pollutants from the UK and Europe are sometimes blown over this country. Similarly pollutants released in Ireland can be transported on the wind to other countries and so falls into the category of transboundary air pollution.
In an effort to tackle the problem of acid rain and smog formation member states of the United Nations agreed a Protocol in Gothenburg in 1999 to reduce emissions of the gases that cause those problems.
The problem was also addressed by the EU who issued a Directive in 2001 restricting emissions from member states of four air pollutants namely; sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds and ammonia.
The graphs below show Ireland’s progress towards the National Emissions Ceiling (NEC) limits set by the EU for the four pollutants in question. For two of the four, Ireland has already achieved, and the other two are well on the way to achieving.
Progress toward the ceiling of 65 kt for NOx in 2010 and beyond has improved largely as a result of continued decline in emissions from power stations and the reduction in road transport emissions in the last three years. However, provisional figures for 2011 show that Ireland is still 2.6 kt above the 2010 emission ceiling (EPA, 2013).
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