There has been media coverage of our annual projections of UK air pollutant emissions, which can be downloaded from the UK National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory website.
This data shows the current trajectory towards our emissions reduction targets for 2020 and 2030. It suggests we are likely to miss a number of our targets, specifically on PM2.5, ammonia, SOx and NOx. However, these projections of UK air pollutant emissions do not take into account future action that we are taking to tackle air pollution.
This includes measures to tackle a range of pollutants in the Clean Air Strategy – which was praised by the World Health Organization as “an example for the rest of the world to follow” – or the action we’ll be taking through the Environment Bill.
Through the Bill the government will commit to setting at least two ambitious new air quality targets, with our primary focus on reducing public health impacts. One of these will be a new concentration target on PM2.5 - the most damaging pollutant to human health - and as part of this we will be considering the World Health Organization’s guidelines for PM2.5.
The statistics on our 2019 emissions were published last month, showing emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, PM2.5, PM10, NMVOCs and ammonia have all decreased between 2018 and 2019.
A Defra spokesperson said:
Air pollution at a national level has reduced significantly since 2010 and emissions continue to improve year-on-year. However, we know there is much more to do, which is why we are delivering a £3.8 billion plan to clean up transport and tackle NO2 pollution, among other measures.
It should be noted that today’s projections do not take into account future action that we are taking to tackle air pollution, such as measures in the Environment Bill to help local authorities tackle air pollution, and further measures in the Clean Air Strategy to tackle a range of pollutants.
The latest inventory data (covering 1990 to 2019) shows that the UK continues to meet current domestic and international ceilings for emissions of ammonia, non-methane volatile organic compounds, sulphur dioxide, and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). This reflects the success of long-term efforts to reduce emissions from industrial and transport sources in the UK.