Why do we estimate?

National Emissions Ceilings Regulations (NECR)

Air pollution travels over long distances, affects human health, degrades buildings and other man-made structures and adversely affects the natural environment through acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone.  The European Community agreed to set emission ceilings through the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD) to protect its citizens, its man-made structures and its diverse environments.  The revised NECR (2016/2284/EU), which entered into force on 31 December 2016, sets new emission reduction commitments for each Member State for the total emissions of NOx, SOx, NMVOC, NH3 and PM2.5 in 2020 and 2030. The new Directive repeals and replaces Directive 2001/81/EC to ensure that the emission ceilings for 2010 set in that Directive shall continue to apply until 2020.  In 2018, NECD was transposed into UK law as the National Emissions Ceilings Regulations (NECR).

Under the NECR, the Secretary of State is responsible for publishing emission inventories and other reporting obligations including the National Air Pollution Control Programme (NAPCP) which must be reviewed at least once every four years, starting from April 1st 2019. The obligations are coordinated and implemented by Defra with contributions from the Devolved Administrations. The reporting requirements are closely aligned with those for the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP), which include a common scope of reporting of pollutant inventories and similar reporting timeframe.

UK compliance with targets: 

The UK reports on compliance with targets in the relevant sections of the Informative Inventory Report. The legislation includes a mechanism for applying adjustments to estimated emissions totals, to account for new sources and new science identified after the Emission Reduction Commitments are agreed.


The UK has met its Emission Reduction Commitments for all four pollutants (nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs)) for all years between 2010 to 2019 inclusive. The UK successfully applied for adjustments to emissions totals for NOx for the 2010-2019 period.


The UK has met its Emission Reduction Commitments for 2020, 2021 and 2022 for nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) and particulate matter (PM2.5). An adjustment for ammonia was approved which brings the UK into compliance for ammonia (NH3). 


The UK has Emission Reduction Commitments for 2030 under the NECR. The latest projections show the likely future trajectory of UK emissions.

Get data

View the latest UK data submission under LRTAP/NECR Submissions.

Detailed data used for the UK NECR estimates can be downloaded from the data page Air Quality data (XLSX).

Page last modified: 01 March 2024