UK cuts greenhouse gas emissions as Euro MEPs back lower levels

Improving air quality, particularly in urban environments remains a key priority at global, national and local government levels, with councils in the UK having to take increasing responsibility for monitoring and managing pollution levels. In this feature LAWE reports on recent developments and runs the rules over new technology available to aid the campaign to clean up the atmosphere

The European Parliament is keeping up the pressure on Member States to improve air quality following a recent vote to reduce pollution levels below those suggested by both the Commission and the European Council.

The MEPs also passed an amendment calling for the abolition of exemptions for maritime traffic and aircraft proposed by the Commission.

The European Parliament also approved the revision of the Large Combustion Plant Directive, limiting emissions from the largest sources such as power stations. The Directive will apply to new large combustion plants, of over 50MW, licensed after the Directive takes effect, and to existing sites from 2008 onwards. The MEPs voted for sulphur dioxide emissions to be limited to 300mg/Nm3 for plants of 300MW and above, with a limit of 1,700mg/Nm2 for liquid fuel plants in the range of 50-300MW.

UK air emission estimates

The call for a tougher regime from the MEPs came as the DETR published 1999 emission estimates for greenhouse gases and other air pollutants for the UK and as a DTI provisional 2000 estimate of total carbon dioxide emissions was announced.

According to the Government, whose emission estimates are provided to the DETR by the National Environmental Technology Centre (NETCEN), key points are:

  • emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases, weighted by global warming potential, fell by 14.5% between the 1990 baseline and 1999. There was a 6.5% fall between 1998 and 1999, as a result of falls in carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and HFC emissions. Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UK agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. To meet its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, the UK has agreed to reduce emissions by 12.5% relative to the 1990 level over the period 2008-2012
  • emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, fell by 9% between 1990 and 1999. The UK aims to move beyond its Kyoto target towards its goal of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 20% below 1990 levels by 2010
  • emissions of carbon dioxide for 2000 are provisionally estimated at 152 million tonnes (carbon equivalent). This is 7.5% lower than in 1990 and consistent with the general downward trend in emissions shown in the Climate Change Programme. Emissions increased by about 2% between 1999 and 2000, mainly as a result of increased use of coal in power stations during 2000 because of maintenance and repair at nuclear and Combined Cycle Gas Turbine stations and higher gas prices at the end of the year.

Monitoring aid

As the volume of environmental legislation continues to grow and staged reviews progress, local authorities are finding that the management of monitored air quality data is becoming more time consuming and complex.

AEA Technology Environment has brought together the leading data management tools of Monitor-Pro Ltd and the recognised air quality expertise of NETCEN to provide air quality data management solutions for industry, regulators and local authorities. Monitor-LAQM is key to this, supporting links across the air quality community.

Monitor-LAQM – an air quality management software tool – is designed to offer the environmental experts within local authorities a “best value” solution to this challenge and to ensure they get the best return on investment from monitoring equipment. This software package is stated to provide local authorities the benefits of rapid and reliable data collation and improved analytical techniques as well as standard performance report generation validated by NETCEN experts.

Data from many sources, including periodic monitoring equipment and multiple instrument suppliers and archives, can be drawn together and managed with ease. All data enters the program automatically and the system provides quality assurance checks and data storage.

Time and cost savings can be further enhanced with the interpolation and mapping tools. These are compatible with ADMS and simplify the visualisation and incorporation of monitoring data into staged air quality reviews. Monitor-LAQM also enables easy-to-understand information to be disseminated to a variety of stakeholders including local communities. Hard copies or HTML files of the reports can be produced at the touch of a button. The package is supplied with ten standard report types.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie