New international treaty requires industries to report on pollutants
In September of this year, Industries throughout the European Union will be required to report annually on the levels of pollutants they release.
The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Aarhus Convention, signed by thirty-six governments and the European Community in May 2003 in Kiev, Ukraine, is set to enter into force on 8 October 2009 following France’s ratification, which was declared on10 July.
Pollutant release and transfer registers are inventories of pollutants from industrial sites, but also smaller, widespread sources such as traffic, agriculture and small and medium-sized enterprises. Under the Protocol, facilities will be required to report annually on the amounts of certain pollutants they release to the environment or transfer to other facilities. The information will then be placed on a public register accessible through the Internet.
The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTs) will help identify the biggest polluters in communities across Europe. The Protocol also covers facilities releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases known to contribute to global warming and thus offers a new tool to countries battling climate change.
In the past, public disclosure of information about pollutant releases has led companies to improve their environmental performance. Citizens in countries requiring industries to report on their releases and transfers of significant pollutants will therefore wield a powerful tool in the fight for a cleaner and safer environment.
Jan Kubiš, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, described this new international law as “a milestone in the advancement of public access to information about sources of environmental pollution in the UNECE region”.
Several parties to the Protocol have released their Registers on the Internet over the past months: Switzerland in February, Spain in March, the United Kingdom in April and Germany in June 2009.
The European Union’s 27 Member States are expected to release their first annual reports on the release and transfer of the Protocol’s list of pollutants on 30 September 2009.
Last updated on 10 June 2011