European union emission inventory report 1990 — 2008 under the UNECE convention on long-range transboundary air pollution (LRTAP)


Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Executive summary - This document is the European Union emission inventory report under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP). The report and its accompanying data are provided as an official submission to the secretariat for the Executive Body of the LRTAP Convention by the European Commission on behalf of the European Union. The report is updated and produced each year by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and its European Topic Centre on Air and Climate Change (ETC/ACC).

Under the LRTAP Convention, Parties (including the European Union) are obliged to report emissions data for a large number of air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur oxides (SOx), ammonia (NH3), carbon monoxide (CO), primary particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), and certain heavy metals lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), polychlorinated dibenzodioxin/ polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/F), total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (total PAHs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

This report includes information on:

  • the formal institutional arrangements that underpin the European Union's emission inventory (Chapter 1);
  • emission trends for the EU-27 (1) and Member States, and the contribution of important individual emission sources to total emissions (Chapter 2);
  • sector group emission trends for key pollutants (Chapter 3);
  • information on recalculations and future planned improvements (Chapter 4).

There are several new elements incorporated into the present European Union emission inventory report compared to last year's publication (EEA, 2009a). The report now includes, for the first time:

  • EU-27 emission trends for heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Hg) and POPs (PCDD/F, total PAHs, HCB, HCH, PCBs);
  • an associated analysis of the most important emitting sources for these pollutants;
  • analysis showing for each main sector group, the trends of important selected pollutants;
  • an improved procedure to fill occasional gaps in the official data reported by countries, which allows for a more complete and robust analysis of EU‑27 air pollutant trends.

Emissions data described in this report are included as accompanying annexes and are also available for direct download through the EEA's Dataservice (2).

EU‑27 emission trends

This report describes the EU‑27 emission trends for a number of air pollutants for the period 1990–2008. An improved gap-filling methodology used in compiling this year's EU‑27 emission inventory means that for the first time a complete EU‑27 time series trend for the main air pollutants (NOx, SOx, NMVOC, NH3 and CO) can be reported to the LRTAP Convention. For the remaining pollutants, one or more Member States did not report emissions for any year meaning that gap-filling could not be applied. For these pollutants, therefore, the aggregated EU data are not yet complete and are likely to underestimate true emissions.

The EU-27 emission trends of the main pollutants, particulates, heavy metals and POPs are illustrated in Figure ES.1. Across the European Union, the acidifying pollutant SOx achieved the largest percentage reduction of emissions since 1990 of a main pollutant. Emissions in 2008 were 78 % less than in 1990. It is noteworthy that SOx emissions decreased rather sharply, falling 20 % in 2008 compared to 2007, mainly due to reductions reported in Bulgaria, Poland and Spain. In each of these Member States, the lower emissions were mainly due reductions reported from public power plants. For example in Spain the emission reduction was largely due to using lower amounts of more‑polluting coal for electricity generation and use of more natural gas and renewables such as wind, photovoltaics and biomass.

Emissions of other key air pollutants also fell significantly in the period since 1990, including emissions of the three air pollutants primarily responsible for the formation of harmful ground‑level ozone in the atmosphere: CO (58 % reduction), NMVOCs (51 % reduction) and NOx (39 % reduction). Of these three pollutants, emissions of NOx realised the largest reduction in 2008, falling by 6.8 %. As with SOx, certain Member States, including France, Spain and the United Kingdom reported rather large decreases in 2008 compared to the previous year, particularly for the public power plant sectors. Emissions from the road transport sector also fell significant in these Member States, reflecting at least in part the lower amount of freight transport by road in the second half of 2008 as a result of the economic recession.

Trends of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) emissions have been compiled for the years 2000–2008 only. While EU-27 emissions of both pollutants have fallen compared to 2000 (by 13 % and 8 % respectively) emission trends over the last five years or so have not shown much improvement, and indeed have actually increased slightly (by 0.2 %) in 2008 compared to the previous year.

The new EU-27 data now available on heavy metals and POPs reveal that since 1990 significant emission reductions have also occurred for the three toxic heavy metals and five POPs, in each case by around 60 % or more. As was noted for particulate matter, the decrease in total emissions of these substances has slowed over the last five years, particularly for the three heavy metals.

Progress of the European Union in meeting its 2010 emission reduction targets under the UNECE LRTAP Convention Gothenburg Protocol

The Gothenburg Protocol to the UNECE LRTAP Convention (UNECE, 1999) contains emission ceilings for the pollutants NOx, NMVOC, SOx and NH3 that Parties to the protocol must meet by 2010. In addition to the ceilings for individual countries,
the protocol also specifies ceilings for the European Union, which itself is a Party to the protocol. The ceiling applies to the EU‑15 grouping of Member States that constituted the European Community at the time the Gothenburg Protocol was agreed.

Table ES.1 shows the aggregated emissions for the year 2008 reported by the EU‑15 Member States in comparison to the respective 2010 emission ceilings specified for the European Union. For NOx, the 2008 emissions are significantly above the
level of the ceiling, for the remaining pollutants the emissions in 2008 were below the respective pollutant ceilings. Later in 2010 EEA will publish its annual NEC Directive Status Report, which analyses, for the EU Member States, the more complete 2010 projections data recently reported under the EU NEC Directive. The NEC Directive contains national emission ceilings that, for the EU Member States, are either equal to or more ambitious than those in the Gothenburg Protocol.

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