Emission ceilings

In Europe, the regional air pollution is regulated by a number of protocols under the CLRTAP (Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution) under the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe). Additionally, there is EU legislation that mostly mirrors the obligations under the CLRTAP.

Under the UNECE, the objectives of the original Gothenburg Protocol was to control and reduce the emissions of SO2, NOx, NMVOC and NH3. In contrary to the former protocols the Parties to the Convention are not obligated to comply with certain reduction ratios from a base year. Instead, emission ceilings have been set from the knowledge of critical loads and environmental impact on ecosystems within the geographical area of Europe. The table shows the emission ceilings for Denmark in 2010 together with the emissions in 2010. The same emission ceilings are given in EU directive 2001/81/EC also called the NEC-directive.

The revised Gothenburg Protocol introduced an adjustment mechanism, so that inventories could continue to evolve, e.g. by introducing new emission sources or updating methodologies. Denmark has applied for adjustments for NMVOC and NH3 and they have been accepted both under the CLRTAP and under the NECD (National Emission Ceilings Directive).

emission ceilings 2010


In 2012, the Gothenburg Protocol was amended to establish emission reduction commitments for 2020. Furthermore, reduction commitments for particulate matter (PM2.5) were introduced for the first time. In the amended Gothenburg Protocol, the reduction commitments are given as a percentage reduction compared to the emission level in 2005. The NECD was revised in 2016 (Directive (EU) 2016/2284) and has the same reduction commitments for 2020 as the Gothenburg Protocol. The revised NECD also has reduction commitments for 2030.

The emission ceilings for Denmark in 2010 according to the Gothenburg Protocol and NECD are shown in the table below together with the reduction percentages for 2020 (in accordance with the Gothenburg Protocol and the NECD) and 2030 (in accordance with the NECD) recalculated to a “ceiling” value.    

Emission ceilings for air pollutants