Air pollution controls—framework
Air pollution controls—framework

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Air pollution controls—framework
  • Brexit impact
  • Sources of air and atmospheric pollutants
  • Effects of air and atmospheric pollutants
  • International controls
  • The 1979 Geneva Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution
  • The 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer
  • The 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol
  • European controls
  • England and Wales
  • More...

Air pollution controls, addressing global climate change, ozone depletion and air quality are complex, wide ranging and cover a number of activities. Given the far reaching nature of air pollution, many of the controls are found at international, European and national levels. This Practice Note provides high level information on this framework of controls.

Brexit impact

11 pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes begin to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. Any changes relevant to this content will be set out below. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—impact on environmental law and News Analysis: Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources.

Sources of air and atmospheric pollutants

Air pollutants come in many forms and stretch across the range of human activities—from emissions emitted by heavy industry, to activities such as driving a car, lighting a fire and refrigerating food. Some of the main pollutants include:

  1. carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides—major sources include industrial processes, energy plants and transportation

  2. sulphur dioxide—released by burning sulphur containing fossil fuels (eg coal) and produces acid rain, when it combines with water vapour

  3. lead particulates and

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