Emissions and pollution down in Flanders

Summary

The region’s greenhouse gas emissions decreased over the last decade by 9%, with a particularly impressive decrease of PCBs

PCBs down by 97%

Flanders’ emissions of greenhouse gases decreased in 2012 to a level 9% lower than in 2000, environment minister Joke Schauvliege announced. The figures are from a report on the period 2000-2012 from the Flemish Environment Agency.

For particular emissions, the figures are more impressive: dioxins went down by 37%; HCB, a chemical toxic to the aquatic environment, decreased by 49%; and PCBs, the culprits that destroy the ozone layer, fell by  a whopping 97%. Reductions were also seen for heavy metals and fine particulates.

The report reveals that the contribution of households and road traffic to pollution is increasing. That is partly explained by the increased use of wood-burning stoves in homes, but is mainly the result of the technical advances made by industry, which saw their contribution towards total pollution decrease as a consequence. 

The reduction in total emissions is the result of a combination of factors, according to the report: a switch to natural gas, decreased use of coal, a preference for fossil fuels with a lower sulphur content and measures taken by the Flemish government to reduce emissions.

An example is the Flemish Air Quality Plan, approved in March 2012, which aims to reduce traffic emissions through dynamic traffic management, investment in green buses and the introduction of gas-powered vehicles.