European Union emission inventory report 1990–2013 under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP)


Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

This document is the annual European Union (EU) emission inventory report to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) (UNECE, 1979). The report and its accompanying data constitute the official submission by the European Commission (EC) on behalf of the EU as a Party to the Executive Secretary of UNECE. The report is compiled by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in cooperation with the EU Member States.

Under the LRTAP Convention, Parties are obliged and invited to report emissions data for numerous air pollutants:

  • main pollutants: NOX, NMVOCs, SOX, NH3 and carbon monoxide (CO);
  • PM emitted directly into the air (primary PM):
    • PM with a diameter greater than 2.5 microns (PM2.5; also called fine particulate matter);
    • PM with a diameter greater than 10 microns (PM10);
    • BC, the most strongly light-absorbing component of PM; and
    • total suspended particulates (TSPs);
  • priority heavy metals (HMs): lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd) and mercury (Hg);
  • additional HMs: arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn);
  • persistent organic pollutants (POPs): polychlorinated dibenzodioxins/dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs);
  • additional reporting of the individual PAHs benzo(a) pyrene (B(a)P), benzo(b)fluoranthene (B(b)F), benzo(k)fluoranthene (B(k)F), indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene (IP), and their sum as total 1–4.

These pollutants harm human health and the environment (EEA, 2014a; EEA, 2014b). In addition, certain species also contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (O3) and secondary PM in the atmosphere. Some pollutants have an indirect and direct effect on the sunlight absorbed by the Earth and reflected back to space (radiative forcing) and hence on the climate.

This report describes:

  • the institutional arrangements and preparation processes that underpin the EU's emission inventory, methods and data sources, the key category analyses, and information on uncertainty, completeness and underestimations (Chapter 1);
  • emission trends for the EU-28 as a whole and for individual Member States, and the contribution made by important individual source-sectors to emissions (Chapter 2);
  • sectoral analyses and emission trends for key pollutants (Chapter 3);
  • information on recalculations as well as planned and implemented improvements (Chapter 4). Emission data presented in this report are included in the accompanying annexes and are also available for direct download through the EEA's data service (EEA, 2015e). The following sections summarise the main findings.

EU-28 emission trends

Figure ES.1 to ES.3 present the aggregated EU-28 emission trends of air pollutants for the period from 1990 to 2013 (2).

Emission trends of main air pollutants between 1990 and 2013

Across the EU-28, the largest emission reduction in the main pollutants was of SOX. Emissions in 2013 were 87% less than in 1990 (Figure ES.1). This reduction is the result of a combination of measures:

  • fuel-switching in energy-related sectors — away from high-sulphur–containing solid and liquid fuels to low-sulphur fuels such as natural gas;
  • the fitting of flue-gas desulphurisation (FGD) abatement techniques in industrial facilities; and
  • the impact of EU directives relating to the Sulphur content of certain liquid fuels.

Emissions of the other main air pollutants have also dropped considerably since 1990, including emissions of the three air pollutants primarily responsible for the formation of ground-level O3: CO (66% reduction), NMVOCs (59% reduction) and NOX (54% reduction). For these main pollutants, the rate at which emissions are decreasing has slowed over the last decade.

In the 'Road transport' sector, emissions reductions since 1990 were achieved for CO, NMVOCs and NOX primarily through legislative measures requiring abatement of vehicle exhaust emissions. NOX emissions also decreased considerably in the electricity/energy generation sectors as a result of certain technical measures, mainly:

  • introduction of combustion modification technologies (e.g. use of low NOX burners);
  • implementation of flue-gas abatement techniques (e.g. NOX scrubbers, and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) techniques);
  • fuel-switching from coal to gas.

NH3 emissions fell less than emissions of the other main pollutants (− 27%) since 1990.

Emission trends of particulate matter between 2000 and 2013

Parties to the LRTAP Convention are formally requested to report emissions of PM from the year 2000 onwards. Hence emission trends are shown for these years only. For TSPs the aggregated EU-28 emission reduction achieved since 2000 is 52% from 1990 (Figure ES.2). Emissions of primary PM10 and PM2.5 have seen a reduction of 19% and 18% respectively, and BC a reduction of 39%.

Total PM emissions dropped mainly thanks to the introduction or improvement of abatement measures across the 'Energy', 'Road transport', and 'Industry' sectors, coupled with other developments in industrial sectors, such as fuel-switching from high‑sulphur‑containing to low‑sulphur‑containing fuels.

Emission trends of HMs and POPs between 1990 and 2013

Emissions for the main HMs (Pb, Cd, Hg), dioxins and furans, HCB and PCBs have also dropped substantially since 1990, in the order of 70% or more (Figure ES.3).

Much progress has been made since the early 1990s in reducing point-source emissions of these substances, particularly from industrial facilities. This has been achieved partially through improved abatement techniques for wastewater treatment and incinerators in metal refining and smelting industries.

In some countries, the emissions reduction follows the closure of older industrial facilities due to economic restructuring. However, the decrease rate in total emissions was higher between 1990 and 2000 than in the following years.

With the exception of Cu, whose emissions remained roughly stable over the years (− 4.6%; 2013 compared to 1990), reductions over the period 1990 to 2013 are also reported for other HMs (As − 68%, Cr − 74%, Ni − 71, Se − 22% and Zn − 42%). The decrease was − 62% for total PAHs (3).

For individual PAHs, the reductions were: − 54% for B(a) P, − 45% for B(b)F, − 56% for B(k)F and − 40% for IP over the period 1990 to 2013. In spite of the clear decreases over the last 25 years, emissions of PAHs have remained broadly stable since year 2000 (Figure ES.3).

EU-28 key categories and main emission sources

EU-28 key categories are the individual sources that contributed overall the most to 2013 emissions of pollutants, determined by a level assessment (4) for NOX, NMVOCs, SOX, NH3, CO, PM2.5, PM10, Cd, Pb, Hg, PCDD/Fs, total PAHs, B(a)P, HCB and PCBs.

A total of 52 different emission inventory source categories were identified as being key categories for at least one pollutant. A number of emission categories were identified as being key categories for more than one of the 15 pollutants assessed. The most relevant key categories are listed in Table ES.1.

Figure ES.4 shows the share of EU-28 emissions by sector group. As observed in past years, each of the main air pollutants has one major source category: for NOX this is 'Road transport'; for SOX, 'Energy production and distribution'; for NH3, 'Agriculture'; for NMVOCs, 'Industrial processes and product use'; and for CO, 'Commercial, institutional and households'.

NOX emissions from the 'Road transport' sector decreased by 56% between 1990 and 2013. The road transport group is nevertheless a major source of the ground-level O3 precursors NOX, CO and NMVOCs in the EU; in 2013 it contributed 39%, 22% and 12% of total EU-28 emissions, respectively. It is also a major source of primary PM2.5, PM10 and of Pb emissions. Passenger cars and heavy duty vehicles and buses are the principal contributors to NOX emissions from this sector; for CO in 2013, passenger cars alone contributed around 55% of emissions from the 'Road transport' sector.

The 'Commercial, institutional and households' sector is the most important source of B(a)P, CO, PM2.5, PM10, dioxins and furans, total PAHs and HCB. Energy- and process-related emissions from industry contribute considerably to the overall emissions of a number of the HMs and POPs.

EU progress in meeting its 2010 emission reduction targets under the Gothenburg Protocol

Table ES.2 shows the aggregated emissions for the year 2013 (as reported by the EU-15 Member States originally listed in the Gothenburg Protocol), as compared to the respective 2010 emission ceilings specified for the EU. For all pollutants, emissions in 2013 were below the respective pollutant ceilings.

Figure ES.5 shows whether the Gothenburg ceilings were met in 2013, for EU Member States. Five Member States (Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland and Luxembourg) reported NOX emissions higher than their ceilings, and six (Austria, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Croatia) exceeded their NH3 ceiling. Three Member States (Denmark, Germany and Ireland) exceeded their NMVOCs ceilings. In 2013, the SOX ceiling was not exceeded by any Member States.

Progress by non-EU EEA member countries in meeting 2010 emission ceilings under the Gothenburg Protocol

Three non-EU EEA member countries (Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) have emission ceilings for 2010 and onwards specified under the Gothenburg Protocol of the LRTAP Convention (UNECE, 1979, 1999). Emission data for Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are the latest reported data under the LRTAP Convention (2015 submission round), and are compared with the respective emission ceilings of the Gothenburg Protocol. Liechtenstein has signed but not yet ratified the protocol. The EEA member countries Iceland and Turkey have not yet signed the Gothenburg Protocol.

Data reported by these countries show that Liechtenstein exceeded its NOX and NH3 emissions ceilings for all years; although Norway exceeded its NOX ceiling from 2010 to 2012, it complied in 2013, while its NH3 emissions ceilings were exceeded in all years. Switzerland complied with all ceilings for all pollutants, except for NH3 in the year 2010 (see Table ES.4).

Recommendations for improved data quality

Despite clear progress in recent years in terms of reporting completeness, a number of data gaps remain in the official data sets received from Member States. The completeness of Member State submissions can therefore be further improved, particularly for historic 1990–2000 data and for certain pollutants such as HMs and POPs. In order to compile a compete as possible EU inventory, missing emission data are gap‑filled to the extent feasible (for details see Section 1.8).

This report also contains several recommendations that may further improve the quality of the EU inventory in future. Member States should submit complete inventories and use proper notation keys for instances where estimated values are not available. They should recalculate emissions data for past years when new methods or new scientific knowledge become available. In this context, it is recommended that Member States review and apply the information contained in the updated EMEP/EEA air pollutant emission inventory guidebook — 2013 (EMEP/ EEA Guidebook; EMEP/EEA, 2013) when compiling their emission inventory data sets.

Further, all Member States are encouraged to report their emission inventories on the basis of fuel sold for the 'Road transport' sector, in line with the reporting guidelines (UNECE, 2014a). Reporting of 'fuel sold' is a minimum requirement although a number of countries may choose to additionally report road transport emissions on the basis of 'fuel used' for compliance checking purposes.

Member States are encouraged to follow up on requests from the EEA or ETC/ACM during the compilation of the EU-28 inventory, by either resubmitting inventory data (in the new NFR14 format) or by updating next year's inventory to reflect new insights gained or errors identified.

Finally, national emission inventory experts are encouraged to participate as expert reviewers in the joint annual EMEP/EEA inventory review process. Such activities (aimed specifically at supporting and improving the quality of national inventories) are of key importance for ensuring that high-quality data are available for the EU's own inventory.

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