UNUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution Steering Body to the Cooperative Programme for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe (EMEP)

The EMEP Strategy 2000-2009

Vision

The Cooperative Programme for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe (EMEP) will continue to be the main science-based and policy-driven instrument for international cooperation in atmospheric monitoring and modelling, emission inventories and projections, and integrated assessment to help solve transboundary air pollution problems. To this end it seeks to develop:

  • SCIENCE - EMEP establishes sound scientific evidence and provides guidance to underpin, develop and evaluate environmental policies;

  • PARTNERSHIP - EMEP fosters international partnership to find solutions to environmental problems

  • OPENNESS - EMEP encourages the open use of intellectual resources and products;

  • SHARING - EMEP is transparent and shares information and expertise with research programmes, expert institutions, national and international organizations, and environmental agreements;

  • ORGANIZATION - EMEP is organized to integrate information on emissions, environmental quality, effects and abatement options, and to provide the basis for solutions.

Executive summary

The protocols to the Convention on Long‑range Transboundary Air Pollution aim to reverse freshwater and soil acidification, forest dieback, eutrophication, exposure to excess ozone, the degradation of cultural monuments and historic buildings, and the accumulation of heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants in the soil, water, vegetation and other living organisms.  The Convention has established a unique network of scientific cooperation, which was initiated by EMEP and has evolved over the years in cooperation with the Working Group on Effects and other bodies under the Convention.

The monitoring network, the quality control system, the emission data and the modelling work have demonstrated the transboundary nature of air pollution problems and made it possible to quantify the source-receptor relationships between countries and regions and convincingly communicate the results to policy makers and to the public. Integrated assessment modelling has made it possible to calculate the most cost‑effective ways to reduce emissions across Europe.

There are still several air pollution problems affecting human health and causing ecosystem damage for which both national and transboundary emissions are responsible:

(a) Fine particulate matter and human health;

(b) The recovery of acidified soils and ecosystems;

(c) Ozone and human health, vegetation and ecosystems;

(d) Eutrophication;

(e) Nitrogen dioxide and human health;

(f) Persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals and human health and ecotoxicological effects; and

(g) Urban air quality and human health.

Following the adoption of the 1998 Protocols on Heavy Metals and Persistent Organic Pollutants and the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone, the Convention and its subsidiary bodies, including EMEP, are at an important turning point.  The priorities for the Convention now are:

         The review and extension of existing protocols; and

         The implementation of, and compliance with, existing agreements.

 Effective implementation of the protocols requires a dedicated system for measuring success.  Success has to be measured by properly integrating monitoring, modelling and emissions assessments. Tools need to be developed and applied to assess and verify that implementation is achieved and that further measures will be cost-effective. At the same time exploratory work must continue on new substances that may be harmful to health and ecosystems.

The tasks of EMEP focus on five subjects:

         Acid deposition/eutrophication;

         Photochemical oxidants;

         Heavy metals;

         Persistent organic pollutants;

         Fine particulate matter.

Scientific support in these five areas requires the systematic collection, analysis and reporting of information from monitoring networks, from emission inventories, from modelling studies, and on various abatement measures, as well as the integrated assessment of this information.  In order to find new options for reducing emissions cost-effectively, structural measures in energy, transport and agriculture need to be more closely examined and incorporated into the assessment.

EMEP, via its technical centres and in cooperation with the Working Group on Strategies and Review, the Working Group on Effects and the Convention's other subsidiary bodies, is well placed to carry out these activities.

EMEP relies on participating countries to meet its objectives and responsibilities. EMEP should identify and take advantage of opportunities for strengthening its partnerships with national and international research programmes and develop mechanisms to incorporate these programmes into its work-plan to improve the scientific quality of its work.  While the centralized activities at the EMEP centres providing Europe-wide analysis of transboundary air pollution should be maintained, partnerships between the EMEP centres and national and international research and monitoring activities should be strengthened.

Environmental policy development in the European Community (EC), including its proposed enlargement, is an additional important driving force for further scientific work within EMEP.  The EC has a legislative system of its own, but both the EC itself and its member countries are Parties to the Convention.  This opens possibilities for cooperation in order to maximize the benefits, and minimize the costs, of monitoring and research.  The opportunities for technical integration of activities coordinated by the European Commission and those of the Convention should, therefore, be exploited as far as possible.

The climate-change policies driven by the Kyoto process aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and international agreements to reduce emissions from, for example, international shipping and aviation constitute a further impetus that should receive appropriate attention in EMEP activities.

To best serve the Convention, EMEP should pay more attention to the regional differences in environmental problems across Europe. In the Mediterranean the focus is more on mesoscale meteorological cycles, ozone and fine particle formation, while in northern Europe long-range transport is important. In the Alps and in other mountainous regions the local topography is a major factor in pollution distribution.

It is also becoming increasingly clear that some environmental problems in Europe need to be considered on a hemispheric or global scale. The work of EMEP should embrace developments in North America and elsewhere.  As global emissions increase, transport between the continents, and even globally, is raising European levels of the pollutants controlled by the protocols to the Convention.  In future EMEP will need to address these issues and interact with the appropriate international research programmes.

Of increasing significance in environmental policy development are the interests and concerns of individual citizens, local authorities, industry, non-governmental organizations, expert institutions and other bodies. This means that there will be a need for greater openness and transparency in the work of EMEP. The dissemination of information within EMEP and from EMEP should be transparent, two-way and easily accessible to everybody.

The work of EMEP will continue to be dependent on support for the EMEP centres, especially through effective implementation of the Protocol on Long-term Financing of EMEP.  In addition, the Parties should be urged to implement the EMEP monitoring programme fully so that uncertainties in present observations, model estimates and emission inventories can be resolved.