B2.1.5 The Geneva Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (the VOCs Protocol)


The 1991 Geneva Protocol concerning the Control of Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds or their Transboundary Fluxes entered into force on 29 September 1997. The UK ratified the Protocol on 14 June 1994.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are the second major air pollutant responsible for the formation of ground level ozone. The Protocol specifies three options for emission reduction targets that have to be chosen upon signature or upon ratification:

  • 30% reduction in emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 1999 using a year between 1984 and 1990 as a basis.

The UK, along with Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden chose option 1, with 1988 as base year. Denmark selected 1985 as the base year; Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the United States selected 1984 whilst Czech Republic, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco and Slovakia using 1990 as base year.

  • The same reduction as for (1) within a Tropospheric Ozone Management Area (TOMA) specified in annex I to the Protocol and ensuring that by 1999 total national emissions do not exceed 1988 levels.

Annex I specifies TOMAs in Norway (base year 1989) and Canada (base year 1988)

  • Finally, where emissions in 1988 did not exceed certain specified levels, parties may opt for a stabilisation at that level of emission by 1999.

This has been chosen by Bulgaria, Greece, and Hungary.