Last reviewed 28 July 2020

Emissions of the five most harmful air pollutants reduced across the EU between 2017 and 2018 according to updated data published by the European Environment Agency.

Data from the UK is also included in the annual Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution on POPs (CLRTAP) report as it covers the period during which it was a member of the EU.

Between 2017 and 2018, emissions of nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, sulphur oxides, fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide and ammonia 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 current EU persistent organic pollutants (POPs) regulation implements, manages and enforces the international Stockholm Convention agreement on POPs and the CLRTAP. Because the UK signed both the Stockholm Convention and the CLRTAP in its own right, all existing obligations and protections will continue.

Competent authorities in the UK manage permits and inventories, as well as some monitoring and enforcement of the regulations.

The competent authorities are:

  • Environment Agency (England)

  • Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Northern Ireland)

  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Scotland)

  • Natural Resources Body for Wales (Wales)

Following the Brexit transition period, the criteria for managing existing substances and new substances exhibiting characteristics of POPs will remain the same. However, identification of potential new POPs substances, with the exception of pesticides, will be managed initially through the UK chemicals regulatory regime that will replace REACH.

If all the characteristics of a POP emerge from the evidence gathering, the UK will develop a dossier for the Stockholm Convention’s POP Review Committee to assess.