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Progress under the Air Convention to ensure cleaner air in the region

Following up on member States’ pledges to improve air quality across the region at the Eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Batumi, Georgia earlier this year (8-10 June 2016), Parties to the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (Air Convention) this week discussed progress in the implementation of these commitments.

In a round-table discussion chaired by UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach, Parties outlined their concrete voluntary commitments under the Batumi Action for Cleaner Air (BACA), an initiative launched at the Environment for Europe Conference. Parties also discussed concrete progress on the status of ratification of the three amended Protocols — the Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone (Gothenburg Protocol), the Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (Protocol on POPs) and the Protocol on Heavy Metals. While ratification of the amended Gothenburg Protocol has not yet been completed in many countries, there has been good progress in the ratification of the amended Protocols on POPs and Heavy Metals.

The Executive Body for the Convention encouraged Parties to step up actions to implement the BACA commitments and to ratify the three amended Protocols, in particular the Gothenburg Protocol. According to the 2016 Convention assessment report, implementation of the amended Gothenburg Protocol would reduce emissions of key pollutants from transport, agriculture, energy and industry by 40 to 45 per cent between 2005 and 2020.As air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk, reducing emissions will be a stepping stone towards significantly improving human health.