Chapter 6. Air quality management

This chapter discusses the main developments in air quality management, including action plans in priority zones of attention. It reviews the state of air quality and health impacts and discusses information measures (or lack thereof). The chapter presents the regulatory framework for air quality management and focuses on the transport sector, detailing the measures taken to improve vehicles, fuel quality and public transport, and to reduce congestion.


Key findings and recommendations

Peru has experienced major economic, social and institutional changes during the past decade. These changes have brought with them both increased pressures on the environment and new approaches to environmental management. Progress has been made in consolidating a management system with specialised institutions and tools for preventing and controlling pollution, which has also served to eliminate conflicts through the promotion of productive activities. The regulatory framework now in place for managing air quality is quite comprehensive: it includes environmental quality standards (EQS), maximum permissible limits (MPLs), and instruments for restoring environmental quality such as action plans. In addition, air quality is supported by tools such as the environmental impact assessment system, clean production agreements, information and environmental education.

Peru has air quality information dating back to the year 2000 for Lima-Callao, a large metropolitan area with a population of some 10 million (31% of the nationwide population) according to figures from the National Statistics and Information Institute (INEI) for the year 2015. Other cities for which systematised information is available are Cajamarca, Tacna, Arequipa, Huaraz and Ilo, where there are monitoring networks of varying size and date of entry into operation. In other cities, especially those where action plans have been implemented, there is information available from isolated monitoring campaigns, but this cannot be used to assess EQS compliance. In some cases, it may be inferred on the basis of the available information that these standards, especially the daily EQS, are not being met. Studies conducted by the Ministry of the Environment (2014, using the AIRQ methodology) on morbidity and mortality attributable to air pollution in metropolitan Lima found 1 220 deaths that were likely attributable to PM10 pollution in the city, of which 468 were caused by respiratory diseases and 165 by cardiovascular diseases. The economic cost of these and other health impacts analysed in the study was USD 806 million, of which USD 802 million corresponded to mortality.

The information available on pollutant emissions into the atmosphere is incomplete: it does not cover all pollutants, it includes only certain activities (albeit the most important ones), it encompasses only a portion of the assessment period, and it is estimated in most cases on the basis of activity reports from the sectors concerned. The underlying information used to perform these estimates does not always represent local conditions, leading to potentially significant, yet unquantifiable, distortions. These problems are believed to limit the authorities’ capacity to pinpoint the sources responsible for pollution and to design corrective measures.

Transportation has been identified as one of the main causes of air quality problems, appearing as the first or second source of pollution in all 31 priority attention zones (ZAP) that have an action plan. Peru’s vehicle fleet is old and poorly maintained. The country allows the importation of used vehicles, although restrictions have recently been imposed, including a five-year vehicle age limit. Vehicle emissions are controlled through MPLs, which have been in place since 2001 and regulate emissions of CO, NOx, SOx, HC, PM and other pollutants. Observance of these limits is verified by Vehicle Inspection Centres, which were established in 2008 under Law No. 29.237. However, background information in various action plans suggests that this obligation is not observed everywhere. Emission controls for diesel vehicles have been deferred until such time as fuel is available with characteristics that meet the MPL. The fuel now in use has a high sulphur content, except in the departments of Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, Puno, Madre de Dios and the province of Callao, where there is a ban on the use and sale of diesel with more than 50 ppm of sulphur. Supreme Decree No. 009-2015-MINAM, in effect as of 1 January 2016, extended a similar ban to the departments of Junín, Tacna and Moquegua.

In 2005 a timetable was adopted, setting 1 January 2010 as the date on which diesel with 50 ppm sulphur must be available nationwide. The date was postponed owing to various factors, including the need to upgrade the country’s main refineries, and this fuel improvement is now being introduced gradually at the regional level. Regardless of the justifications, the delay has extended beyond what may be considered reasonable, considering the public health impact of poor fuel quality. The quality issue also limits the importation of vehicles with more advanced technologies and lower emissions. At the present time, the vehicle emissions standard is Euro III, which may be considered outdated. The incorporation of natural gas into the country’s energy mix has made an important contribution to pollution reduction and prevention, as its use in power generation, industry and transportation has spread. Roughly 8% of the vehicle fleet is gas-powered. Since 2003, Peru has had legislation promoting biofuels (Law No. 28.054), which sets a minimum ethanol content of 7.8% in gasoline, and a minimum biodiesel content of 5% in diesel fuel. It is being gradually implemented by region, with the intent of supporting the entire productive chain. After an initial effort to produce locally, these products are now largely imported. Public transportation is provided for the most part informally, with obsolete and poorly maintained rolling stock, except in Lima where efforts are being made to streamline the system. Transit routes and frequencies are not planned, and service providers (small firms or individual vehicle owners) compete among themselves for passengers in the cities. For these reasons, the public transit system is deficient and of poor quality.

The vehicle ownership rate is low in Peru, compared with other countries of the region: 73 vehicles per 1 000 inhabitants in 2013 (including heavy vehicles). However, most of the major cities have traffic congestion problems. As the Peruvian economy grows, this indicator can be expected to rise. At this stage, it is important to try to prevent an uncontrolled increase from exacerbating pollution and mobility problems. The authorities must provide alternatives to automobile use through efficient transportation systems, adequate road infrastructure, and control over unplanned urban sprawl. On this point, major efforts have been expended in Lima, with construction of a metro system within the city and the Metropolitano, a transit system with segregated rights-of-way and high-capacity rolling stock that is backed by local feeder routes. Both initiatives are taking a comprehensive approach to the transportation problem, and they have done much to alleviate transit problems in the capital. However, implementation timetables have been delayed by financing problems.

Thirty-one priority attention zones, located in an equal number of atmospheric basins, have action plans, an instrument designed to reverse or prevent atmospheric pollution problems. For an area to be declared a priority attention zone, it must have populated centres or towns with more than 250 000 inhabitants or a population density per hectare that justifies its priority attention, or there must be socioeconomic activities with a significant influence on air quality. As the definition does not require that an area be failing in compliance with a particular standard in order to be declared a priority attention zone, this encourages the implementation of preventive measures. The lack of systematic information on air quality has meant that, in most of these areas, compliance with EQS cannot be reliably verified. In some cases, it is possible to establish failure to comply with certain daily standards, which by inference indicates non-compliance with annual EQS. The measures contained in the action plans cover a range of aspects, including improving information on air quality and emission sources, delivery of information to the public and environmental education, improving fuels, combustion processes and technology, primarily in transportation, and urban planning, also focused on transportation. In some cases they contain measures to ensure compliance with other standards, such as technical inspection of vehicles. Many are presented in general terms, without indicating any specific targets to be met or the manner of implementing them, and information on their financing is not always available. Measures are not subjected to any economic assessment of the cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness type. The effectiveness of this instrument could be substantially enhanced by improving the information on air quality and emissions in the respective localities, and encouraging the design of more effective measures and better arrangements for their financing.

Peru’s emissions of greenhouse gases are low, in both per capita and total terms, and they represent only 0.3% of global emissions. Roughly half the country’s emissions come from activities related to land use, changes in land use, and deforestation. The 2010 emissions inventory reports 124 109 GgCO2eq, and the main sources as deforestation and degradation of tropical forests (35.1%), followed by the energy sector (32.7%), primarily through growth in the vehicle fleet, the agriculture sector (21%), waste (6.2%) and industrial processes (5.1%). The second national communication forecasts steady growth of emissions in all sectors. Emissions from energy and agriculture will triple by 2050, while those related to land use will rise by 137%. The incorporation of natural gas into the energy mix has displaced the consumption of oil in manufacturing and transportation, and has prevented increased carbon-intensity in power generation. In this last sector, hydroelectricity development has slowed, with a differentiated impact on global and local pollutant emissions. The Planning for Climate Change (PlanCC) project is a government initiative launched in 2012, the first phase of which was completed in 2014. It involved an update of Peru’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory to 2009 and the production of qualitative and quantitative evidence on possible climate change mitigation scenarios for 2021 and 2050, applying 77 mitigation measures in energy, agriculture, forestry, transportation, waste management and industrial process. Phases II and III involve policy analysis of measures and their implementation, respectively.

  • Strengthen the infrastructure of air-quality monitoring networks to ensure compliance with environmental quality standards (EQS). Increase the coverage of air-quality measurements in cities with histories of possible pollution problems. Expand the scope of the measures included in the air quality improvement action plans by, for example, taking residential emissions into account; assessing the cost-effectiveness ratio of the existing measures; and exploring the possibility of improving them.

  • Improve the coverage and estimates of emissions from different sources in the priority attention zones (ZAPs). Make progress with the preparation of emissions inventories using local data to identify sources and assess the cost-effectiveness ratio of the measures applied. Make progress with setting maximum permissible limits for those sectors that do not yet have them. Complete the implementation of Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) to facilitate the preparation of inventories and the design of decontamination measures.

  • Extend the use of cost-benefit analyses of emissions and quality standards and of the measures contained in the action plans, using local information. Assess the inclusion of emissions offset schemes in new projects implemented in priority attention zones with atmospheric pollution problems, ensuring that the offsets are made within the affected area.

  • Invest in the design and construction of efficient public transport systems and promote the use of means of transport other than automobiles. Make efforts to improve fuel quality, bringing standards closer to those of the OECD countries. Promote economic incentives based on the polluter pays principle to reduce vehicle emissions and atmospheric pollution. Further restrict imports of used vehicles and establish stricter entry requirements for new vehicles. Oversee compliance with vehicle emission standards and technical inspections of the vehicle fleet. Promote the scrapping of old vehicles still in use as a way to reduce NOx emissions.

1. Trend of emissions and air quality

1.1. Local pollutant emissions

The available information shows that pollutant emission trends have been heterogeneous. Whereas some have followed a similar trajectory to economic activity, partly because they are estimated on the basis of national fuel consumption by sector (INEI, 2015), others reflect the use of better-quality fuels.

Aggregate data on emissions of particulate material (PM) report a relatively stable trend over time, at roughly 75 000 tonnes per year. Nonetheless, this information suffers from several inconsistencies, because its sectoral breakdown attributes about 92% of the total to the residential and commercial sectors (INEI, 2015).

Sulphur emissions have been decreasing slightly. This trend strengthened towards the end of the period as emissions from the transport sector fell thanks to the use of low sulphur-content fuels, mainly in Lima and other major cities. Nitrogen oxide emissions have followed a different pattern. After an initial period in which they increased only very slightly (2003-2007), they later expanded more rapidly, basically owing to vehicle emissions. Carbon monoxide emissions grew by an average of 2.42% per year, which is a relatively low rate considering energy consumption by the transport and other sectors (Table 6.1 and Figure 6.4), together with the growth of the vehicle fleet and emissions of nitrogen oxide from mobile sources. Data from the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM, 2015a) are similar to those estimated by the Clean Air Initiative Committee for Lima and Callao (CGIALLC), which are limited to transport in the capital, so they must be treated with caution.

Table 6.1. Local pollutant emissions
(Thousands of tonnes and percentages)











Period variation

Particulate material












Sulphur oxides












Transport-related sulphur oxides






















Nitrogen oxides












Transport-related nitrogen oxides






















Carbon monoxide












Source: ECLAC calculations on the basis of INEI (2015), Peru. Anuario de estadísticas ambientales 2014.

Peru has information on the sources of pollution in localities that have been declared priority attention zones, for which the action plans adopted require emissions inventories to be maintained (see section 2.3 and the listing of action plans at the end of this chapter). Nonetheless, these inventories are of uneven quality, owing to the varying capacity to collect relevant information.

The data presented offer an overview of emission trends in Peru. Although they were estimated mainly on the basis of fuel consumption by sector, it would be useful to indicate the combustion technologies used and apply emission factors that are appropriate to the reality in the country. The available information address the most important emitting sectors or subsectors, but not all of them. For example, residential emissions are not recorded, and those not arising from direct fuel use have not been estimated. Nor is there systemised information on various types of emissions to which an EQS is applied, such as lead (except in Lima), benzene, hexane and hydrogen sulphide. These gaps are more prominent in the regional and local areas.

Insufficient information on air-quality makes it impossible to fully appreciate the extent of the air pollution problem. The available data are confined to 31 priority attention zones and are highly heterogeneous; in some cases they come from measurements made in operating networks, such as in Lima-Callao, but in others they were obtained from sporadic monitoring campaigns undertaken by public institutions performing environment-related functions. These include the National Meteorology and Hydrology Service (SENAMHI), the General Directorate of Environmental Health (DIGESA), the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA) and the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM). As a result, they are not statistically representative and cannot be considered indicative of air quality.

Table 6.2 lists the zones in which there are monitoring stations. Owing to budgetary constraints, these are not always permanently operational outside Lima.

Table 6.2. Permanent monitoring stations


Number of stations

Entity in charge

Entity responsible for operation



Regional government

Regional Health Directorate (DIRESA)



Regional government




Regional government




Universidad Nacional Santiago Antúnez de Mayolo

Universidad Nacional Santiago Antúnez de Mayolo



Local government

Local government


10 a





Regional government


La Oroya (Junín)


Doe Run Perú (private)

Doe Run Perú

Note: a) Does not include the DIGESA network.

Source: ECLAC calculations on the basis of MINAM (2015), Estudio de desempeño ambiental, 2003-2013.

According to the background information included in the current action plans, air quality is affected first and foremost by transport and by mining activities, including a number of smelters; and also by fishing, and other smaller-scale industrial activities. As noted above, there is insufficient information on residential emissions and, in general, on pollution sources that are not directly related to combustion. The latter includes the burning of household waste, which is a common practice in localities that do not have a regular waste collection service.

Two air-quality monitoring stations operate in the city of Lima. The first and older one is administered by DIGESA, attached to the Ministry of Health, whereas the second is run by SENAMHI, which is part of MINAM. According to data on Lima and Callao obtained from the DIGESA air-quality monitoring programme, the average annual concentration of breathable particulate matter (PM10) decreased by 29% between 2007 and 2013 (MINAM, 2015a).Apparently, the concentration also declined in other parts of the country. There was also a 43% reduction in the average annual concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The same source also reports reductions in concentrations of SO2 (by 33%) and NO2 (by 16%). The average annual concentration of PM10 detected at three DIGESA monitoring stations exceeded the standard in 2007, and the same situation occurred in 2013 in another two stations (Figure 1.5). The annual EQS applicable to PM10 is 50 μg/m3 (Supreme Decree 074-2001-PCM) and it has been monitored since July 2007. In 2014, gross particulate matter concentrations in Lima exceeded the limits set in the guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO); and they were also above the levels recorded in OECD member countries, and even in Peru’s surrounding region (Figure 6.1).

In daily terms, several of the SENAMHI network monitoring stations in Lima have noted that PM10 often exceeds the respective EQS, and PM2.5 does so even more frequently. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) concentrations also exceed the permitted level in these stations, while the average annual concentration of NO2 remains within acceptable limits. The reduction in pollutant concentrations can be explained partly by the better quality of fuels currently being sold in Lima; the adoption of natural gas in much of the industrial sector (particularly in subsectors that previously used industrial oils)1 and a small segment of the transport sector; the implementation of a mass passenger transit system (the Metropolitan corridor and electric train) and technical inspections.

Figure 6.1. PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations in selected cities, 2014

Source: ECLAC calculations on the basis of World Health Organization database.

The information that is available on the rest of the country comes mainly from isolated monitoring campaigns held in 2013 and 2014 in some of the 31 localities declared as priority attention zones, with the aim of collecting background data for formulating the respective action plans. These campaigns lasted three days on average and were undertaken by MINAM, DIGESA and OEFA; in other cases, the information comes from local government surveillance networks. The campaigns noted that the daily PM10 concentration in five of the 31 cities analysed exceeded the current daily limit (150 µg/m3), on at least one of the three measurement days. Moreover, in 12 of 21 cities where the daily concentration of PM2.5 was measured, this exceeded the current EQS for a 24-hour period (25 µg/m3), on at least one of the three days considered. In the case of SO2, ten of the 31 cities registered average concentrations above EQS for a 24-hour period on at least one of three days evaluated. Hourly NO2 concentrations did not exceed the recommended limit (200 µg/m3) in any of the 21 Peruvian cities here measurements were taken (MINAM, 2015a).

In most cases, this information does not make it possible to verify compliance with standards for daily and annual concentrations, although it does show that the daily limits are breached in several localities, and it is highly likely that this is also occurring with respect to annual concentrations.

1.2. Greenhouse gas emissions

The main source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Peru is land-use change, stemming from the conversion of primary forests into agricultural land or simply from their degradation. The inventory of GHG emissions for 2010 records a level of 124 109 GgCO2eq in that year, of which 56% corresponds to agriculture and land use, land-use change and forestry.

Table 6.3. Greenhouse gas emissions by sector, 1994-2010
(GgCO2eq and percentages).






22 154


25 400


25 391







15 215


Industrial processes

9 899


7 917


6 274



22 809


22 545


26 051


Land use, land-use change and forestry





43 518


Land-use change and forestry

41 218


56 826





2 736


7 335


7 660



98 816


120 023


124 109


Source: Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), Estudio de desempeño ambiental, 2003 – 2013, Lima, 2015.

Peru’s Second National Communication forecasts that emissions will continue to grow on a sustained basis in all sectors — probably tripling by 2050 in the agricultural and energy sectors, and increasing by 137% in the land-use sector.

Peru’s GHG emissions represented 0.34% of the world total and 3.5% of those corresponding to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2012. If emissions from land-use change and the deforestation process are excluded, the share drops to around 0.2% globally and 2.5% regionally (Chapter 1). Table 4.4 shows the trend of emissions.

Table 6.4. Greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions, 2002-2012
(TgCO2 equivalent, CO2 and percentages).


Total GHG emissions, excluding land-use change and forestry

Total GHG emissions, including land-use change and forestry

CO2 emissions associated with electricity and heating

CO2 emissions associated with transport






















Source: ECLAC calculations, on the basis of WRI (2015), “CAIT Climate Data Explorer”.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published information that is comparable to the above (Figures 1.2 and 1.3), showing that Peru’s global and per capita emissions are well below the average of OECD countries. There has also been an increase in emissions from the transport and power generation sectors, the latter having been transformed by the incorporation of natural gas. Until 2013, 39% of total emissions came from transport and 25% from power generation and heating. Between 2003 and 2013, CO2 emissions declined by 1.6% relative to the total supply of primary energy and increased by 14% in relation to final energy consumption, owing to the efficiency loss caused by the greater use of gas in electric power generation.

Several estimations have been made of the economic impact of climate change in Peru. The first was done by the Andean Community, by taking the expected effects of climate change on agribusiness, agriculture, fishing, water availability and electricity in the United States, and extrapolating them to its member countries (CAN, 2008). This exercise concluded that, by 2025, climate change could reduce GDP by 4.5%. A later estimation by the Central Reserve Bank of Peru (2009) found that real GDP could decline by 6.8% by 2030. A joint publication by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) estimated the cumulative reduction in GDP as fluctuating between 11.4% and 15.4% in 2010-2100, depending on the climate situation (IDB/ECLAC, 2014).

1.3. Transport

Transport is considered one of the main causes of air pollution in several Peruvian cities. In the 31 priority attention zones for which action plans have been developed, it is ranked as either the first or second cause.

The fact that Peru’s vehicle fleet is old and receives little maintenance results in high emission levels. As Peru allows used automobiles to be imported, vehicles of all kinds have entered the country, frequently in a bad condition, which makes it harder to renew the fleet with units that meet stricter emission standards. In an attempt to correct this situation, the importation of vehicles aged over five years was recently banned. The motorisation (or vehicle ownership) rate in Peru is lower than in other countries of the region, at just over 70 vehicles per 1 000 inhabitants in 2013 and well below that recorded in OECD countries (Figure 6.2). In 2003, the rate was 50 per 1 000 inhabitants, so there has been a 45% increase in the period. Despite the low motorisation rate, most major cities suffer from congestion problems, and in the last five years the vehicle fleet has grown by an average of 7% per year. While vehicle ownership can be expected to increase along with economic growth, the rate is still low so there is room for effective implementation of a decoupling strategy.

Figure 6.2. Relation between the motorisation rate and per capita GDP, 2003-2010
(In purchasing power parity USD at constant 2005 prices and vehicles per 1 000 inhabitants)

Source: ECLAC calculations on the basis of World Bank database, World Development Indicators.

About two thirds of the vehicles existing in Peru are registered in the Department of Lima (65.4% in 2013). In 2004-2013, the vehicle fleet grew by 6.3% per year nationwide, and by 6.7% in the Department of Lima.

The existence of a deficient, and in some cases virtually non-existent, road infrastructure, does not contribute to good vehicle maintenance and is the cause of high emissions of particulate matter through re-suspension effects. More detailed information on the subject is not available, however.

In 2001, MPLs were adopted to control CO, NOx, SOx, HC and PM emissions from vehicles and other sources; and several action plans called for the implementation of vehicle emission controls. Observance of the limits should be verified periodically at the vehicle inspection centres, pursuant to Law 29.237 of 2008, but information suggests that compliance is limited. Controlling emissions from diesel vehicles has been postponed on several occasions, because Peru does not yet have fuel that allows for MPL compliance (Supreme Decree 012-2005-PCM, Supreme Decree 029-2005-MTC, Supreme Decree 026-2006-MTC, Ministerial Resolution 488-2007-MTC, Supreme Decree 005-2008-MINAM, Supreme Decree 020-2009-MINAM, Supreme Decree 017-2010-MINAM, Supreme Decree 100-2011-PCM and Supreme Decree 009-2012-MINAM).

Peru uses fuels with a high sulphur content, particularly diesel. Law 28.694, of 22 March 2006, banned the use and marketing of diesel fuel with a sulphur content above 50 ppm as from 1 January 2010. This provision was later amended to apply to Lima and Callao only (Supreme Decree 061-2009-EM), while implementation in the rest of the country was left pending. Ministerial Resolution 0139-2012-MEM then extended the prohibition to the whole department of Lima, plus the departments of Arequipa, Cusco, Puno and Madre de Dios. Recently, Supreme Decree 009-2015-MINAM established the same prohibition for the departments of Junín, Tacna and Moquegua as from 1 January 2016 (Table 6.5).

Table 6.5. Timetable for implementing the provisions on the sulphur-content of diesel fuel





5 000 ppm (whole country)

50 ppm (Lima-Callao)

50 ppm (Lima-Callao, Cusco, Arequipa, Puno and Madre de Dios)

50 ppm (Lima-Callao, Cusco, Arequipa, Puno and Madre de Dios)


5 000 ppm (rest of the country)

5 000 ppm (rest of the country)

50 to 2 000 ppm (rest of the country)


2 500 ppm (imported fuel)

2 500 ppm (imported fuel)

2.500 ppm (imported fuel)

Source: ECLAC.

Outside Lima and Callao, diesel fuel with a sulphur content of 2 000 ppm is used, but concentrations can rise as high as 5 000 ppm. One of the causes of the delay in adopting better-quality fuels is the delay in upgrading Peru’s main refineries (Conchán and Talara, belonging to the state-owned Petroperú, and La Pampilla, owned by Repsol), which were initially scheduled to start producing diesel with a 50 ppm sulphur content as from 2010. The process has lasted beyond reasonable limits, considering the effects of the bad quality of fuel on the population’s health. This situation also restricts the possibility of importing vehicles made with more advanced technologies that produce fewer emissions. Currently the European Euro III standard on polluting emissions is applied, which is out of date.

The incorporation of natural gas into the country’s energy mix has made a significant contribution to reducing and preventing pollution, and its use has been extended to power generation, manufacturing industry and transport. Roughly 8% of the vehicle fleet now runs on natural gas.

The Biofuel Market Promotion Act (Law 28.054) requires a minimum ethanol content of 7.8% in the case of gasolines and 5% biodiesel content in diesel fuels. These provisions are being implemented gradually in the regions, and efforts have been made to support units throughout the production chain to promote the sector. Nonetheless, following an initial period in which there was a considerable boost to domestic production, it has since been decided to import biofuels.

Most public transport is operated on an informal basis, using old vehicles with little maintenance and reduced capacity. The routes and frequencies are not programmed; and the service providers, small firms and even individual vehicle owners, compete for passengers in the cities. In contrast, in Lima, significant measures have been adopted, including the construction of the metro system and creation of the Metropolitano, a transport corridor segregated into structuring roads or hubs connected to feeder routes, on which large-capacity vehicles circulate. These initiatives, which aim to address the transport problem in the capital on an integrated basis, have alleviated the problem considerably, but implementation has been delayed by financial difficulties.

At this stage, it is important to avoid haphazard growth, which would aggravate the problems of pollution and mobility. The authorities should foster the use of other means of transport apart from automobiles, through efficient transport systems, adequate road infrastructure and control of haphazard urban sprawl.

1.4. Energy

Modernisation of the energy sector has a significant influence on local and global pollutant emissions. This sector has undergone major changes in the period reviewed, as a result of economic growth and the momentum given to the exploitation of natural gas.

Data supplied by IEA show that national energy production grew by 128% in 2003-2013; moreover, the change in the composition of the energy mix made possible by the development of the gas industry led to the share of gas in national production increasing from 6.5% to 55.1% in that period. Trends in the other energy sources include a 4% drop in oil production in the same period, and moderate expansions of hydropower and biofuels, of 20% and 26.4% respectively (Figure 6.3).

Figure 6.3. National production of energy sources
(Thousands of tonnes of oil equivalent)

Source: ECLAC calculations on the basis of IEA (2015), World Energy Balances.

The importance of natural gas is also reflected in statistics on international trade in energy sources. Peru ceased to be a net importer of energy products in 2003, when it covered 29.1% of its needs2 with purchases from abroad; and it became a net exporter as from 2011, basically owing to gas production. In that period, crude oil imports declined, while imports of oil derivatives increased in response to the requirement to use low-sulphur fuels imposed by the environmental authorities in the departments indicated in Table 6.5. This made it necessary to purchase abroad, in a context where the largest increase in fuel consumption occurred in the transport sector (annual average of 8.1%). Peru is also a net exporter of oil derivatives.

Peru’s energy needs increased by 86% in the period analysed (average growth of 6.4% per year), while the demand for crude oil, excluding derivative products, increased by 45.6% (3.8% per year on average), which was less than the growth of the economy overall (Figure 1.4). The country’s carbon needs are small (4.2% of total primary energy supply (TPES) in 2013); and they remained constant throughout the period analysed. Renewables accounted for 23.1% of TPES in 2013, and expanded by 30.6% (annual average of 2.7%). Hydropower generation has remained relatively constant, although it increased by 20.6% in the period (1.9% annual growth) while total power generation grew by 79% between 2003 and 2012, to reach 41 036 GW hours (GWh), 52% of which came from hydraulic sources and 48% from thermal sources. Just 0.5% of the power supply was sourced from solar energy.

Peru has major hydroelectric potential. A study by the Halcrow-Oist consortium in 2011 estimates this potential at 69 445 MW, of which 60 627 MW would come from the eastern, Atlantic-draining, side of the country and 8 731 MW from the Pacific side. Nonetheless, installed hydroelectric capacity amounted to just 3 662 MW in 2014 (MINEM, 2015), while national energy production from wind power is estimated at 22 450 MW, and from geothermal sources at 3 000 MW (IRENA, 2014). The same source shows that high rates of economic growth will lead to burgeoning energy demand, estimated at around 9% up to 2017, which will entail additional demand of 4.30 GW, of which 2GW are expected to be met from renewables.

Transport and its growth in the period under analysis dominated the trend of final energy consumption. In 2013, this sector accounted for a 41% share, compared to 29.7% in 2003. Consumption increased by 115% between those two years. The other large-scale energy consumers are the manufacturing, mining and residential sectors on the one hand, and the commercial and public sectors on the other; the latter two accounting for around 27% each. In the same period, energy consumption grew by 52.2% in the manufacturing sector, while the services sector posted the largest increase (457%) although its share is still relatively small (around 6% in 2013).

The transformation of Peru’s energy matrix has had positive effects on local pollution. Thanks to the greater availability of gas, thermal electricity generation has not been carbon-based, which has enabled the industry to cease using industrial oils. It is also estimated that up to 2013 around 173 000 vehicles had started using natural gas, representing about 8% of the vehicle fleet in that year.3 Nonetheless, carbon has gained a larger share of the power generation matrix, to the detriment of hydroelectric production, which was the main power source at the start of the period.

Figure 6.4. Final energy consumption by sector

Source: ECLAC calculations on the basis of IEA (2015), World Energy Balances.

2. Policy goals

2.1. Air quality

The National Environmental Action Plan (PLANAA - Perú 2011-2021) (Supreme Decree 014-201-MINAM) is a long-term environmental planning tool that specifies priority targets, strategic actions and the entity responsible. It also provides selected indicators to evaluate its application by the entities comprising the National Environmental Management System (SNGA) at the three levels of government. The plan defines the priority target in terms of air quality in the following terms: “100% of the prioritised cities implement their action plans to improve air quality and fulfil EQS for air”.

Another instrument adopted in this area is the National Environmental Action Agenda, which is updated every two years. Its purpose is to ensure that the activities and institutions comprising SNGA are governed by the priorities set in public policies, namely the National Environmental Policy (PNA), sector policies, the National Environmental Action Plan and the Strategic Pillars of Environmental Management, to mention merely the most important regulations. The current National Environmental Action Agenda 2015-2016 (Ministerial Resolution 405-2014-MINAM) specifies the air quality objective in terms of reducing pollution levels, and the expected result is an improvement in atmospheric conditions in the 31 prioritised cities. Specifically, it provides for the adoption of measures aimed at reducing PM10 emissions, to ensure compliance with the relevant EQS in 24 of those cities. It also envisages progress in drafting a clean air law, which includes technical, administrative and taxation measures to speed up the process.

Given the available information on air quality and emissions, and the heterogeneity of institutional capabilities, achieving the proposed objectives could take longer than expected.

2.2. Climate change

One of the objectives of the National Environmental Policy, included in the chapter on the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and biological diversity is to “enable the population to adapt to climate change and establish mitigation measures aimed at sustainable development”.

The new National Strategy on Climate Change (ENCC) was published on 23 September 2015 through Supreme Decree 011-2015-MINAM. This instrument, which is an update of the strategy adopted in 2003 (Supreme Decree 086-2003-PCM), reflects the government’s commitment to address climate change and also enables it to fulfil the international commitments assumed. The previous strategy contained 108 targets, of which only 12% were fully attained in the first six years of application. Progress was also made towards achieving 49% of them, including programmes, projects and ongoing activities (MINAM, 2015b). The National Strategy sets two strategic objectives: (i) avoid the adverse effects of climate change by reducing vulnerability of the economy and society, specifically by applying adaptation measures at an appropriate scale; and (ii) reduce GHG emissions, taking advantage of facilities for changing production patterns in key sectors such as forestry, energy, transport and manufacturing, and also in solid waste management. Given the origin of the emissions, the mitigation strategy is focused on reversing land-use change and deforestation processes, which cause 46% of emissions. In addition, special importance is accorded to adaptation measures, in view of the country’s vulnerability to climate change.

Peru has developed projects under the Clean Development Mechanism, in which emissions reduction certificates have been issued totalling 4.5 TgCO2eq. Progress is also being made in formulating suitable mitigation measures for the transport and waste sectors, with funding from international co-operation (Chapter 5). The Planning the Climate Change Project (PlanCC) responds to a government initiative adopted in 2012, the first stage of which was completed in 2014 with the following results: updating of the GHG emissions inventory to 2009; compilation of qualitative and quantitative information for defining climate change mitigation scenarios up to 2021 and 2050; and the formulation of 77 mitigation measures applicable to the energy, agriculture, forestry, waste management, transport and manufacturing sectors. The second and third stages will focus on the political analysis of the measures and their implementation, respectively (MINAM, 2015a). Based on this, in October 2015, Peru presented its expected national contribution, which foresees a 30% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, relative to the base scenario. Two thirds of the reduction is expected to be achieved through investments and expenditure funded domestically, both public and private, and the remaining third will depend on the availability of international financing. Sixty per cent of the expected reduction will come from the forestry sector, specifically through the adoption of measures related to deforestation (MINAM, 2015b). National contributions will be announced at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21), Peru having made a major contribution to the organisation of the previous session, which paved the way for the Paris Agreement (Chapter 5).

2.3. Prevention and co-ordination

As regards local pollutants, air quality management is based mainly on EQS, MPLs, action plans and instruments relating to production units, in which institutions of the National Environmental Management system at the different government levels participate. According to the National Environmental Management System Framework Act (Law 28.245), the environmental functions of the entities forming it “are exercised on a co-ordinated, decentralised and deconcentrated basis, subject to the National Environmental Policy, the Plan and the National Environmental Action Agenda, and cross-sectoral standards, instruments and mandates, which are of compulsory observance in the different spheres and levels of government”. This law also establishes a co-ordination framework between those institutions.

Environmental quality standards applicable to air

Peru has adopted the following standards on the key pollutants: particulate matter (PM10), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3). There are also quality standards for fuel-related pollutants: lead, benzene, hexane and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) (Table 6.6).

Table 6.6. Environmental quality standards applicable to air



Upper limit


Entry into force

Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

24 hours (average)


Supreme Decree 006-2013-MINAM

1 January, 2009

24 hours (average)


Supreme Decree 003-2008-MINAM

1 January, 2014

Particulate matter (PM10)

1 year (average)


Supreme Decree 074-2001-PCM

22 June, 2001

24 hours (average)


Fine particulate matter (PM2.5)

24 hours (average)


Supreme Decree 003-2008-MINAM

1 January, 2014

Carbon monoxide (CO)

8 hours (average)

10 000

Supreme Decree 074-2001-PCM

22 June, 2001

1 hour (average)

30 000

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

1 year (average)


Supreme Decree 074-2001-PCM

22 June, 2001

1 hour (average)


Ozone (O3)

8 hours (average)


Supreme Decree 074-2001-PCM

22 June, 2001


1 year (average)


Supreme Decree 069-2003-PCM

14 July, 2003

1 month (average)


Supreme Decree 074-2001-PCM

22 June, 2001


1 year (average)


Supreme Decree 003-2008-MINAM

1 January, 2014


24 hours (average)

100 mg/m3

Supreme Decree 003-2008-MINAM

1 January, 2010

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S)

24 hours (average)


Supreme Decree 003-2008-MINAM

1 January, 2009

Source: Ministry of the Environment (MINAM).

Peru’s annual emissions standard for PM10 (50 μg/m3) is above the annual average of 20 μg/m3 recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2006); but it is consistent with what WHO sets as intermediate objective 2 (although above intermediate objective 3 and the recommended guideline value), since air quality management is considered a progressive activity. In the case of the daily standard for PM10, the upper limit imposed in Peru is equivalent to 150 μg/m3, three times the level recommended by WHO (50 μg/m3 as an average over 24 hours). This level would correspond to what is classified by that institution as intermediate objective 1, above intermediate objectives 2 and 3 and the recommended guideline value.

Although Peru has not yet adopted an annual standard for PM2.5, its daily standard is consistent with that recommended by WHO. This produces an asymmetry because if the daily PM2.5 standard were observed, then both the daily and annual PM10 standards would also be comfortably met, thus making them redundant unless much of the pollution caused by particulate matter is not the result of combustion processes.

In the case of nitrogen dioxide, WHO recommends averages of 40 μg/m3 annually and 200 μg/m3 per hour. Peru does not satisfy the annual recommendation, but it does meet the hourly standard. In the case of sulphur dioxide, Peru applies two daily average values, one of which coincides with the WHO recommendation, while the other is four times higher. The latter is implemented in localities where SO2 concentrations were recorded above 20 μg/m3; so, in the framework of the respective action plans, activities were designed and deadlines set for achieving the relevant targets. These provisions are applied in the localities of Ilo, Arequipa and La Oroya, two of which have smelters operating in them. Peru has not adopted a standard applicable to SO2 emissions averaged over a 10-minute period, as suggested by WHO to avoid serious effects. In the case of ozone, the limit proposed by WHO is an average of 100 μg/m3 for each eight-hour period, so the standard adopted in Peru can be considered adequate.

According to the available information, systematic measurements of air quality are only taken in Lima. In the rest of the country, there is no periodic monitoring to verify fulfilment of the aforementioned standards.

Maximum permissible limits applicable to atmospheric emissions

The maximum permissible limits refer to the concentration of substances in effluents or emissions which, if exceeded, have or could have serious effects on health, human well-being, and the environment. In the framework of the sectoral structure of environmental management in Peru, these limits are defined by economic sector, rather than by the technology employed; and they are inspected by the ministries responsible for the respective sectors, except where that responsibility has been delegated to the Environmental Assessment and Enforcement Agency, or to equivalent regional and local institutions.

Table 6.7. Sectors in which MPLs are applied

Institution responsible

Sector and subsector

Ministry of Production

Production of beer, cement and paper; leather products; fishery sector

Ministry of Energy and Mining

Mining-metallurgy, hydrocarbons

Ministry of Transport and Communications

Vehicle fleet

Source: Ministry of the Environment (MINAM).

Under current law, when determining MPLs, consideration must be given to the effect of the regulated emissions on air quality; but the degree of co-ordination between institutions responsible for verifying compliance and their capacity to perform that task is unknown. Thus far, this type of limit has not been imposed on any industrial sector that is important in terms of air quality.

Action plans applicable to air

The National Environmental Air Quality Standards Regulation (Supreme Decree 074-2001-PCM) defines priority attention zones as those with populated centres or populations larger than 250 000 inhabitants, or a per hectare population density that justifies their priority attention, or the presence of socioeconomic activities that have a significant influence on air quality. Under this definition, air-quality protection measures can be adopted, even if the area has not been judged non-compliant with a particular standard. The regulation also stipulates that the action plans aim to “establish the strategy, policies and measures needed to enable a priority attention zone to attain the primary air quality standards in a given period”, notwithstanding environmental management measures or other tools in force in areas that are not declared priority attention zones.

Following promulgation of the regulation, the first 13 priority attention zones were created in 2001; and a further 18 were created in 2012, under the responsibility of MINAM (Ministerial Resolution 339-2012-MINAM).

Table 6.8. Localities declared priority attention zones in relation to air quality



Supreme Decree 074-2001-PCM

Arequipa, Cerro de Pasco, Chiclayo, Chimbote, Cusco, Huancayo, Ilo, Iquitos, La Oroya, Lima-Callao, Pisco, Piura, Trujillo

Ministerial Resolution 339-2012-MINAM

Abancay, Utcubamba, Cajamarca, Chachapoyas, Huamanga, Huancavelica, Huánuco, Huaraz, Ica, San Román, Mariscal Nieto, Moyobamba, Tarapoto, Tumbes, Coronel Portillo, Tambopata, Puno, Tacna

Source: Ministry of the Environment (MINAM).

An estimated 18.3 million people (60% of Peru’s population) have benefited from the action plans applied in the priority zones. The plans corresponding to 18 of those zones are currently being formulated, those of another six are in the approval process, and for the remaining seven zones existing plans are being updated.4

The first step in formulating an action plan entails organising a technical group with representatives from different sectors of society and the public institutions responsible for activities pertaining to the domain in question. The group must compile the necessary information, including emission inventories, quality data and epidemiological studies, and formulate the relevant measures. Then, a preliminary plan proposal is drafted and circulated for public consultation.

A review of several action plans reveals an egregious lack of information on air quality and emission sources. In many cases, emission inventories are mere listings which do not classify the sources properly and use inadequate emission factors. It is also common for generic measures to be proposed to control pollution, including rationalising transport systems, improving fuel quality, applying vehicle emission controls, or promoting the adoption of land management tools. This makes it impossible to determine their effectiveness or verify their application.

Environmental management tools related to production activities

To make sure the environmental regulations are being complied with, Peru requires industries to submit the following documents: (i) environmental impact statements or studies, either detailed or semi-detailed, as a prerequisite for obtaining permits to start activities; (ii) preliminary environmental diagnostic assessments, for the formulation of an Environmental Management Adaptation Programme (PAMA), which identifies and evaluates the environmental impact and problems caused by manufacturing industries; and (iii) PAMA, to facilitate the adaptation of an economic activity to new environmental requirements. These are related not only to air quality but also to other aspects of the environment.

The current regulations are being fulfilled progressively. Initially, four subsectors were considered: beer, paper, leather products and cement. In 2005, Ministerial Resolution 055-2005-PRODUCE, incorporated a further three: textiles, smelting and ceramics. Firms in these subsectors are required to report on their respective adaptation programmes and implement them.


CAN (Andean Community) (2008), El cambio climático no tiene fronteras: impacto del cambio climático en la Comunidad Andina, May.

Consorcio Halcrow-Oist (2011), “Evaluación preliminar del potencial hidroeléctrico HIDROGIS”, Lima, March.

IBD/ECLAC (Inter-American Development Bank/Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) (2014), La economía del cambio climático en el Perú. Síntesis, Lima.

IEA (International Energy Agency) (2015), "World Energy Balances".

INEI (National Institute of Statistics and Informatics) (2015), Perú: Anuario de estadísticas ambientales: 2014, Lima.

IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) (2014), “Peru. Renewables Readiness Asessment 2014” [online]

MINAM (Ministry of the Environment) (2015a), Estudio de desempeño ambiental, 2003 – 2013, Lima.

_____ (2015b), Estrategia Nacional ante el Cambio Climático 2015, Lima.

MINEM (Ministry of Energy and Mining) (2015), Anuario estadístico de electricidad 2014, Lima.

WHO (World Health Organization) (2006), WHO Air quality guidelines for particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide [online]

WRI (World Resources Institute) (2015), “CAIT Climate Data Explorer” [online]

Air Quality Improvement Action Plans in Peru:

Plan of Action “A Limpiar el Aire” [Clean the air] of the Iquitos atmospheric basin (2005).

Plan of Action “A Limpiar el Aire” of the Piura atmospheric basin (2005).

Plan “A Limpiar el Aire” – Cusco.

Plan of Action for improved air quality in the La Oroya atmospheric basin (2006).

Plan of Action for air pollution abatement and prevention in the Huancayo atmospheric basin 2006- 2010 (2005).

Plan “A Limpiar el Aire”, Arequipa.

First integrated atmospheric cleanup plan for Lima-Callao (2004).

Plan of Action for improved air quality in the Trujillo city atmospheric basin (2009).

Plan of Action for improved air quality in the Pisco city atmospheric basin (2013).

Plan of Action for improved air quality in the priority attention zone of the Chachapoyas atmospheric basin (2015).

Plan of Action for improved air quality in the priority attention zone of the Abancay atmospheric basin (2015).


← 1. Residual fuels for industrial use obtained from the oil refining process.

← 2. Expressed in terms of total primary energy supply (TPES).

← 3. See [online]

← 4. [Online]