European Community ratifies pollutant right-to-know treaty
Geneva, 3 March 2006 - The European Community has ratified the
Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers,1 thereby committing
its 25 member countries to setting up nationwide registers of polluting
substances. This will make it easier for the public to get information
about pollutants released to air, water and land from specific sites, as
well as waste transferred off-site to other locations for disposal or incineration.
Thirty-six governments and the European Community signed the Protocol in
May 2003 in Kiev, Ukraine.2
Pollutant release and transfer registers are inventories of pollutants from
industrial sites and other sources. In countries that ratify the new Protocol,
facilities will be required to report annually on the amounts of certain pollutants
they release to the environment or transfer to other facilities. The information
will then be placed on a public register. Where similar registers exist, the
public disclosure of information about pollutant releases has led firms to
improve their environmental performance.
While the Protocol focuses mainly on pollutants coming from factories, it
also provides a framework for reporting on pollution from smaller, widespread
sources such as traffic, agriculture and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Under a regulation adopted in January 2006 to implement the Protocol, the
European Commission and the European Environment Agency will establish the
first European Union-wide pollutant release and transfer register. The first
reports on pollutants being released or transferred in European Union countries
will be published in 2009.
The Protocol will enter into force on the ninetieth day after the date of
deposit of the sixteenth instrument of ratification by a member State of the
United Nations. Ratification of the Protocol by the European Community is
additional to, and distinct from, ratification by its member States.
For further information, please visit www.unece.org/env/pp/prtr.htm or
Mr. Michael STANLEY-JONES
Environmental Information Management Officer
Aarhus Convention Secretariat
UNECE Environment, Housing and Land Management Division
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Phone: +41 (0)22 917 24 42
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 06 34
1 The UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation
in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus
Convention) seeks to promote greater transparency and accountability among
government bodies by guaranteeing public rights of access to environmental
information, providing for public involvement in environmental decision-making
and requiring the establishment of procedures enabling the public to challenge
environmental decisions. The Aarhus Convention was adopted in the Danish
city of Aarhus in June 1998 and entered into force in October 2001. The
Convention has 39 Parties.
2 The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers was adopted
at an extra-ordinary meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention on
21 May 2003, where it was signed by the following countries: Armenia, Austria,
Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic,
Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland,
Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland,
Portugal, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, The Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, and by the European Community.