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Sweden makes first step for new international agreement on air pollution to enter into force

Sweden has become the first Party to accept the 2012 amendments to the 1999 Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone (Gothenburg Protocol) under the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (Air Convention). The Gothenburg Protocol deals with multiple pollutants and their effects at the same time and has thus been referred to as multi-pollutant and multi-effect protocol.

The amended Gothenburg Protocol includes national emission reduction commitments for main air pollutants to be achieved in 2020 and beyond. It is the first legally binding agreement containing obligations to reduce the broader spectrum of so-called short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), notably fine particulate matter (PM2.5), including black carbon and ground-level ozone precursors: nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Tackling these target substances that have an effect on the climate and air quality, the Gothenburg Protocol is an example of how air pollution and climate change policies can be addressed in an integrated manner.

Less than two weeks before the climate change negotiations in Paris (COP 21) start, Sweden’s acceptance of the amendments is an important step on the way to reducing air pollution and mitigating climate change. It will also pave the way for other Parties to the Air Convention to follow suit. The 2012 amendments to the Gothenburg Protocol will enter into force once two thirds of the Parties to the original Protocol have accepted them.