On 23 July 2020, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published its EU emission inventory report for the period 1990–2018. The report confirms the overall trend of steady but slow progress by EU member states, including the UK for the period it was a member, in reducing emissions of the main air pollutants present in Europe since 1990.
In all, 26 pollutants are monitored in the report, which is sent by the EU to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Between 2017 and 2018, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur oxides (SOX), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO) and ammonia (NH3) dropped by 4.1%, 2.0%, 6.7%, 3.8%, 4.3%, and 1.6%, respectively, for the EU as a whole. Wider differences were reported by member states, with increased emissions of certain pollutants occurring in a number of individual countries.
The EEA report finds that, in 2018, the residential and household sector, which is one of the main emitting sectors for several pollutants, emitted 61% of all polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 51% of all primary PM2.5 and 41% of all dioxins and furans to the air in the EU. As in past years, around 93% of all NH3 emissions came from agriculture. Road transport was responsible for 39% of all NOx emissions, followed by the energy production and distribution (16%) and the commercial, institutional and household (14%) sectors. Energy production and distribution, which includes emissions from power plants, was also responsible for 41% of all mercury and 48% of all SOX emissions. These figures reflect emissions data for 1990-2018 and do not take the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown into account.
Source: EEA, 23 July 2020