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EU adopts new rules for member states to drastically cut air pollution

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-12-15 00:48

BRUSSELS - The European Parliament and the European Council on Wednesday signed the new National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive into law to set stricter limits on the five main pollutants in Europe.

The European Commission said that when fully implemented, the Directive, which will enter into force on Dec. 2016, will reduce by almost 50 percent by 2030 the negative health impacts of air pollution, such as respiratory diseases and premature death.

New rules will also have substantial benefits for the quality of fresh water, soil, and ecosystems and help address the impacts of harmful particles causing climate change like black carbon, it said.

Member states must transpose the Directive into national legislation by June 30 of 2018 and produce a National Air Pollution Control Programme by 2019 setting out measures to ensure that emissions of the five main air pollutants are reduced by the percentages agreed by 2020 and 2030, according to the release.

In December 2013, the Commission published the Clean Air Programme for Europe, which updated the air policy objectives for 2020 and 2030.

It comprised a proposal on medium-sized combustion plants, the proposal for a new NEC Directive, and a proposal for ratification of the recently amended Gothenburg Protocol.

The NEC Directive sets maximum emission ceilings for each country per year for the five main pollutants -- fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, non-methane volatile organic compounds, and ammonia.

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