Legal Framework

The principal legal instrument through which the European Union implements its policies related to Air Quality is Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the council of the 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe together with Directive 2004/107/EC of the European Parliament and of  the council of 15 December 2004 relating to arsenic, cadmium, mercury,nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air.  Both these Directives were transposed into Maltese Law through the Ambient Air Quality Regulations, which:

 
• Set a general policy framework for dealing with ambient air quality
 
• Oblige Malta to put in place systems for assessing ambient air quality based upon common methods and criteria
 
• Oblige Malta to maintain ambient air quality where it is good and improve it in other cases, by means of plans and programs of action
 
• Lay down provisions for a system of gathering, reporting and publicizing information.  This includes both data reported to the Commission and information to the public
 
• Set limit values for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, benzene, ozone, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2,5) and lead, which are not to be exceeded throughout the Maltese Islands.
 
• Set target values for arsenic, cadmium, nickel and poly aromatics expressed as benzo[a]pyrene, which are to be, as far as is reasonably possible, complied with.The following are the standards which Malta (together with the other EU Member States) is obliged to comply with.
 
The following are the standards which Malta (together with the other EU Member States) is obliged to comply with;
Pollutant
Concentration
Averaging period
Permitted exceedences each year
Fine particles (PM2,5)
25 µg/m3
1 year
n/a
Sulphur dioxide (SO2)
350 µg/m3
1 hour
24
 
125 µg/m3
24 hours
3
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
200 µg/m3
1 hour
18
 
40 µg/m3
1 year
n/a
PM10
50 µg/m3
24 hours
35
 
40 µg/m3
1 year
n/a
Lead (Pb)
0.5 µg/m3
1 year
n/a
Carbon monoxide (CO)
10 mg/m3
Maximum daily 8 hour mean
n/a
Benzene
5 µg/m3
1 year
n/a
Ozone
120 µg/m3
Maximum daily 8 hour mean
25 days averaged over 3 years
Arsenic (As)
6 ng/m3
1 year
n/a
Cadmium (Cd)
5 ng/m3
1 year
n/a
Nickel (Ni)
20 ng/m3
1 year
n/a
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
1 ng/m3
(expressed as  concentration of Benzo(a)pyrene)
1 year
n/a

National Emissions Ceilings.

The Directive on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants (Directive (EU) 2016/2284), together with the various source specific legislative instruments (such as the Industrial Emissions Directive or the Directives setting Vehicle Emissions Standards) make possible the achievement of the standards above.   This Directive sets the maximum amounts (in kilotonnes) of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, non-methane volatile organic compounds, and PM2,5  which, can be emitted by each Member State. The Directive on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants Directive was transposed into Maltese Law through the Limitation of Emissions of Certain Atmospheric Pollutants Regulations, 2018 and obliges Malta to achieve the following emission reductions over 2005 by 2020, 2025 and 2030.

Compliance Year

NOx

SO2

NH3

NMVOC

PM2,5

2020

-42%

-77%

-4%

-23%

-25%

2025

-60%

-86%

-14%

-25%

-38%

2030

-79%

-95%

-24%

-27%

-50%


Emission Limits for 2020, 2025 and 2030

 Regulation 4 of the Limitation of Emissions of Certain Atmospheric Pollutants Regulations, 2018, obliges ERA to publish on its website the emission limits in tonnes equivalent to the respective emission reductions in sub-regulations 2,3 and 4 of regulation 4, see the tables below:

 Table 1: Emission Limits to be complied with by 2020

Pollutant

Emission Reductions in Article 4(2), SL 549.124

Emission Levels in 2005

2020 Emission Limits

 

(%)

(tonnes)

(tonnes)

SO2

77

11000

2530

NOx

42

9300

5394

NMVOC

23

3300

2541

NH3

4

1600

1536

PM2,5

25

1300

975

Table 2: Indicative Emission Limits to be achieved by 2025

Pollutant

Emission Reductions in Article 4(3), SL 549.124

Emission Levels in 2005

2025 Emission Limits

 

(%)

(tonnes)

(tonnes)

SO2

86

11370

1592

NOx

60

9560

3824

NMVOC

25

3920

2940[i]

NH3

14

1710

1471

PM2,5

38

710

440

Table 3: Emission Limits to be complied with by 2030

Pollutant

Emission Reductions in Article 4(4), SL 549.124

Emission Levels in 2005

2030 Emission Limits

 

(%)

(tonnes)

(tonnes)

SO2

95

11370

569

NOx

79

9560

2008

NMVOC

27

3920

2862[i]

NH3

24

1710

1300

PM2,5

50

710

355


Compliance with these ceilings is assessed through the Atmospheric Emission Inventory, which are compiled by the Member States every year. The time series for the emission of atmospheric pollutants by the EU Member States can be viewed on this webpage.

Multilateral Environmental Agreements

The NEC Directive implements the European Union’s obligations under a multilateral environment agreement known as the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. The main aim of this agreement is to combat acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone as well as, to limit and, as far as possible, gradually reduce and prevent air pollution including long-range trans-boundary air pollution.


[i] This is higher than the emission limit for 2020 due to fact that the 2005 baseline as recalculated by TSAP 16 and which, was used in the setting of the 2030  reduction commitments was higher than that used in the setting of the LRTAP reduction commitments for 2020 by 19%.