On 23 July 2020, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published the annual report on the European Union's emission inventory for the period 1990-2018 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
The report shows that emissions of the main air pollutants have decreased since 1990, albeit to varying degrees.
The road transport sector has reduced emissions of CO and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) since 1990, and NOX emissions have also continued to fall since 1992. According to the report, the sector has achieved this primarily through legislative measures requiring a reduction in exhaust emissions from vehicles. European legislation is gradually setting stricter emission limits for air pollutants from cars, vans, trucks and buses, known as Euro standards. The standards apply to tailpipe emissions of NOX, which are determined by laboratory-based tests. These official tests do not measure the actual level of emissions that vehicles produce under real driving conditions, i.e. NOX emissions are higher than the EU limits allow. This has contributed significantly to exceeding the daily limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in air quality at urban traffic stations. New tests under real driving conditions now complement the laboratory-based tests. Such tests became mandatory for all new cars and vans from September 2019.
Emissions of primary PM10, PM2.5 and BC have decreased by 29%, 32% and 46% respectively (since 2000).
According to the report, these reductions are mainly due to the introduction or improvement of reduction measures in the energy, road transport and industrial sectors.