Progress in reducing emissions of key air pollutants has been uneven across the UNECE region over the past few decades. To create a level playing field across the region, the Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone (Gothenburg Protocol), a unique instrument to reduce emissions of key air pollutants under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (Air Convention), contains a number of flexibilities for new Parties. These flexibilities were intended to facilitate ratification, specifically by Parties in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA), which is vital for cleaner air in the UNECE region more broadly.
However, since the adoption of the amendments to the Protocol in 2012, none of the countries in the EECCA region has ratified the Protocol so far. An important priority for the Convention in recent years has hence been to encourage the ratification and to strengthen the implementation of the Convention and its protocols, targeting Parties from EECCA countries.
To discuss progress in the region and activities to further facilitate ratification, Convention Parties from EECCA countries met virtually together with the Task Force on Techno-Economic Issues (26 and 27 April 2021). They also discussed the review of the Gothenburg Protocol, suggesting simplification or further flexibilities, such as, for example, a step-wise or annex-by-annex approach to ratification, a bottom-up process for commitments, or specific conditions for countries from the EECCA region, as currently established for the United States of America and Canada in the protocol. Proposals for the review process will be further discussed at the upcoming Working Group meeting (59th session of the Working Group on Strategies and Review, 18-21 May 2021).