Assessing the impact of the Gothenburg protocol in the Czech Republic


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

The Executive Body of UNECE (United Nations Economic Comission for Europe) adopted the Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone in Gothenburg (Sweden) on 30 November 1999.

The Protocol sets emission ceilings for 2010 for four pollutants: sulphur, NOx, VOCs and ammonia.  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 will have to make the biggest cuts. Once the Protocol is fully implemented, Europe’s sulphur emissions should be cut by at least 63%, its NOx emissions by 41%, its VOC emissions by 40% and its ammonia emissions by 17% compared to 1990.
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. VOC emissions from such products as paints or aerosols will also have to be cut. Finally, farmers will 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.  
It has been estimated that once the Protocol is implemented, the area in Europe with excessive levels of acidification will shrink from 93 million hectares in 1990 to 15 million hectares. That with excessive levels of eutrophication will fall from 165 million hectares in 1990 to 108 million hectares. The number of days with excessive ozone levels will be halved. Consequently, it is estimated that life-years lost as a result of the chronic effects of ozone exposure will be about 2,300,000 lower in 2010 than in 1990, and there will be approximately 47,500 fewer premature deaths resulting from ozone and particulate matter in the air. The exposure of vegetation to excessive ozone levels will be 44% down on 1990.