Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone

The 1999 Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone 

The Executive Body adopted the Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone in Gothenburg (Sweden) on 30 November 1999.  

The Protocol sets national emission ceilings for 2010 up to 2020 for four pollutants: sulphur (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ammonia (NH3).  It thus builds on the previous Protocols that addressed sulphur emissions (1985 Protocol; 1994 Protocol), VOCs and NOx. These ceilings were negotiated on the basis of scientific assessments of pollution effects and abatement options.  Parties whose emissions have a more severe environmental or health impact and whose emissions are relatively cheap to reduce have to make the biggest cuts. 

The Protocol also sets tight limit values for specific emission sources (e.g. combustion plant, electricity production, dry cleaning, cars and lorries) and requires best available techniques to be used to keep emissions down. VOCs emissions from such products as paints or aerosols also have to be cut. Finally, farmers have to take specific measures to control ammonia emissions.  Guidance documents adopted together with the Protocol provide a wide range of abatement techniques and economic instruments for the reduction of emissions in the relevant sectors, including transport.  

Parties have to report on their emissions once a year. In addition, the Protocol requires Parties to provide projections of their future emissions. This provides a forward-looking way, through which emission trends can be better assessed. It can also help countries in managing air pollution by adjusting measures in case of projected exceedances.

The Protocol was amended in 2012 by Executive Body decisions 2012/1 and 2012/2 to include national emission reduction commitments to be achieved by 2020 and beyond. Several of the Protocol’s technical annexes were revised with updated sets of emission limit values for both key stationary sources and mobile sources. The revised Protocol is also the first binding agreement to include emission reduction commitments for fine particulate matter. Also for the first time, the Parties have broken new ground in international air pollution policy by specifically including the short-lived climate pollutant black carbon (or soot) as a component of particular matter. Reducing particulate matter (including black carbon) through the implementation of the Protocol is thus a major step in reducing air pollution, while at the same time facilitating climate co-benefits.

The revised Protocol also introduced flexibilities to facilitate accession of new Parties, mainly countries in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Another novelty of the revised Protocol is a flexibility mechanism that allows Parties – under clearly defined circumstances – to propose adjustments to their emission inventories or emission reduction commitments listed in Annex II of the amended Protocol, thus recognizing both the uncertainties inherent in estimating and projecting emission levels and the need for continuous scientific and methodological improvements under the Convention. Guidance (decisions 2012/12 and 2014/1) has been provided to Parties, following decisions 2012/3 and 2012/4 to also apply the adjustment procedure for the original Protocol.

The amendments to annex I already entered into force on 5 June 2013. In line with article 13, paragraph 3, of the Protocol, the amendments to the text of the Protocol and its annexes II to IX and the addition of new annexes X and XI require ratifications by two thirds of the Parties. These amendments have thus not yet entered into force.

TitleENGFRERUSRatificationEntry into force

1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone to the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution






Annex IPDFPDF PDF5/06/2013
Annex II as of 31 December 2013PDF

1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone to the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, as amended on 4 May 2012

PDFPDFPDFStatusNot yet in force except for Annex I: 5/06/2013
Annex II and III as of 1 April 2017PDF

Further information:

Press-release on the adoption of amendments to the Gothenburg Protocol