In 2022, the European Commission introduced a proposal for stricter air quality standards. With existing policy measures, the air quality in most of the Netherlands will meet these requirements by 2030. However, the new limit values for nitrogen dioxide are expected to be exceeded near busy roads, in the IJmond and Maasvlakte regions and around Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. This is the outcome of modelling performed by RIVM. To stay below the limit values in 100% of the country, policy plans will need to be specified. The specific form these new measures will take remains unclear. For this reason, RIVM is unable to model their effect.

Additional measures needed

RIVM has modelled that the existing policy measures are sufficient to comply with the new air quality limit values by 2030 in 98% of the Netherlands.
However, additional measures will be needed near busy roads, in the IJmond and Maasvlakte regions and around Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Near busy roads, the limit values can be met if emissions from road traffic are reduced by a further 10% by 2030. The European Commission has also proposed stricter emission standards for vehicles. If these take effect, this will reduce the number of locations where the proposed limit values for nitrogen dioxide are exceeded. This will also be the case if policy plans are implemented to meet the climate and nitrogen targets for road traffic.

The Dutch government is currently discussing ways to achieve the 2030 climate and nitrogen goals. It still needs to specify how the proposed policy measures will be implemented. Until then, it is impossible to model whether the limit values can be complied with everywhere in the country.

Cleaner air yields health benefits

The proposed air quality requirements will reduce Dutch people’s exposure to pollutants further by 2030. This will benefit their health, particularly if they have a respiratory condition such as asthma or COPD.

Proposed step toward compliance with WHO guideline values

On 26 October 2022, the European Commission proposed an adjustment to the 2008 Ambient Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC). The goal of the Commission was to establish new air quality standards that are more in line with the WHO guideline values for air quality that were introduced in 2021. However, the proposed adjustment will not be sufficient to comply with those values.

RIVM performed this modelling at the request of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.