NEC Directive Status Report 2014

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Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

Reporting by Member States under Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2001 on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants

This report describes the most recent emission inventory information provided by the Member States of the European Union (EU) at the end of 2014, under Directive 2001/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on national emission ceilings for certain atmospheric pollutants (commonly known as the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD)) (EU, 2001).

The NECD requires all 28 EU Member States to report information annually on emissions of four significant air pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOX), non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3). These pollutants can cause respiratory problems, contribute to the acidification of soil and surface water, cause eutrophication in sensitive habitats and damage vegetation through exposure to tropospheric ozone resulting from these emissions. To help protect human health and the environment, the NECD sets pollutant-specific and legally binding emission ceilings for each of these substances and for each country. The ceilings were to be met by 2010 as well as in future years.

Member State–reported emissions data and NECD emission ceilings
Each year, by 31 December, Member States are required to report their national emission inventories for the four NECD pollutants. More specifically, final emission data should be submitted for the previous year but one, as should provisional emission data for the previous year. Therefore, at the end of 2014, Member States were required to report final emission data for the year 2012, and provisional estimates of emissions for 2013.

NOX emissions:

  • 11 Member States exceeded their ceilings in 2010 (final data);
  • eight Member States exceeded their emission ceilings in 2011 (final data);
  • nine Member States exceeded their ceilings in 2012 (final data);
  • six Member States were still exceeding their NOX ceilings in 2013 (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg) (provisional data).

In absolute amounts, Germany and France reported the highest exceedances of NOX ceilings in 2013, by 218 kilotonnes and 180 kilotonnes, respectively. In percentage terms, Luxembourg (41%) and Austria (32%) continued to exceed their NOX emission ceilings the most in 2013.

NMVOC emissions:

  • four Member States exceeded their ceilings in 2010 (final data);
  • five Member States exceeded their ceilings in 2011 (final data);
  • four Member States exceeded their ceilings in 2012 (final data);
  • three Member States were still exceeding their NMVOC ceilings in 2013 (Denmark, Germany and Ireland) (provisional data).

In absolute amounts, Germany reported the highest exceedances of NMVOC ceilings in 2013, by 143 kilotonnes. In percentage terms, Ireland (64%) and Denmark (35%) continued to exceed their NMVOC emission ceilings the most in 2013.

SO2 emissions:
All Member States met emission ceilings for SO2 in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

NH3 emissions:

  • six Member States (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain) exceeded their ceilings in 2010, 2011, 2012 (final data) and 2013 (provisional data).

In absolute amounts, Germany reported the highest exceedances of NH3 ceilings in 2013, by 121 kilotonnes. In percentage terms, Germany (22%) and Finland (20%) continued to exceed their NH3 emission ceilings the most in 2013.

In summary:

  • final 2010 emission data show that 12 Member States exceeded one or more of the emission limits set by the NECD;
  • on the basis of the final 2011 data, 11 Member States reported emission data above the ceiling for at least one pollutant;
  • final 2012 data show that 12 Member States exceeded the ceilings for at least one pollutant;
  • provisional 2013 data show that 10 Member States exceeded the ceilings.

Germany was the only Member State that exceeded three of the four emission ceilings under the directive in 2013 (for NOX, NMVOCs and NH3). Three Member States, Austria (NOX and NH3), Denmark (NMVOCs and NH3) and Ireland (NOX and NMVOCs) exceeded two ceilings in 2013.

In 2010, 2011, 2012 (final data) and 2013 (provisional data), the aggregated EU-27 NOX emissions did not exceed the NECD Annex I ceiling (see Table 2.1). However, the NECD Annex II ceiling, addressing environmental objectives, was still exceeded in 2010, 2011 and 2012, though the level of exceedance decreased over the three years. The provisional data suggest that emissions were just below the ceiling in 2013. The aggregated EU-27 ceiling for NH3 were not exceeded in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, but emissions did not decrease considerably over the four years (Table 2.1). The NECD does not include a NH3 ceiling addressing environmental objectives (EU, 2001).

The road transport sector is one of the main contributing factors for the large number of NOX exceedances, particularly as reductions of NOX emissions from this sector over the last two decades have not been as large as originally anticipated. This is partly because the sector has grown more than expected, and partly owing to the increased penetration of diesel vehicles producing higher NOX emissions than petrol-fuelled vehicles (EEA, 2011). Actual emissions from vehicles driven on roads under normal conditions are also higher than originally expected, with 'real-world emissions' often largely exceeding the permitted test-cycle emissions used for certification of vehicles complying with Euro standards. This is particularly true for light-duty diesel vehicles.

Member States regularly update the emission factors used in their inventories, and reported developments in emissions have to be based on 'real-world' emission factors.

Agriculture dominates emissions of NH3, amounting to almost 95% of the total emissions in the EU-27. Emissions primarily arise from the decomposition of urea in animal wastes, uric acid in poultry wastes and from the spreading of fertiliser. Emissions depend on the animal species, age, weight, diet, housing systems, waste management and liquid manure storage techniques. Compared with the other pollutants addressed in the NECD, emissions from agriculture have not decreased to the same extent since 1990.

Compared to the previous reporting cycle, when only provisional 2012 data were available (2), several Member States reported revised final 2012 emissions data, thereby changing the emission ceilings attainment status of seven Member States. It is noted that these changes are all related to NMVOCs or NH3:

  • Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Ireland reported provisional 2012 NMVOC data below their emission ceilings. Due to emission recalculations, the attainment status of these countries changed, and their NMVOC emissions of the year 2012 now exceed their ceilings. The changes are primary due to additional reporting in the agriculture sector (see also NH3 below).
  • Provisional 2012 emission data indicated that Luxembourg did not attain its NMVOC emission ceiling. However, final 2012 emission data now indicate that Luxembourg's NMVOC emissions are below the ceiling. This is mainly attributable to recalculations in the emission inventory source categories 2D3a (Domestic solvent use including fungicides) and categories 2D3d to 2D3i (Coating applications, Degreasing, Dry cleaning, Chemical products, Printing and Other solvent use). Austria reported provisional 2012 NH3 data below its emission ceiling. The final 2012 NH3 emissions however now exceed the ceiling — likewise for the years 2010, 2011 and 2013. The changes are primarily due to recalculations in the agriculture sector. Based on a new study, the Austrian inventory model for the agriculture sector was revised. The Austrian sectorial inventory model follows the nitrogen (N-flow) concept. Due to the applied N balance model, which considers reactions throughout the N-flow in agricultural systems, the recalculations resulted in higher NH3 emissions and lower N2O emissions.
  • Germany and the Netherlands reported increases of NH3 emissions with regard to the provisional and final 2012 data. This changes their attainment status. The changes are primarily due to recalculations in the agriculture sector. For both countries, the NH3 emission levels from agriculture increased due to improved emission factors for the different husbandry systems and manure application (EMEP/EEA, 2013). In Germany the new NH3 emission factors nearly doubled the fertiliser‑induced NH3 emissions. Furthermore new sources were added to the inventories (e.g. application of sewage sludge, compost and emissions from crop residues), and livestock data were updated (e.g. for dairy cows and other cattle).

EU progress in meeting its emission ceilings
The EU itself has two different sets of emission ceilings for 2010 and onwards, as set out in the NECD (3).

Based on the aggregated reported final 2010, final 2011, final 2012 data and provisional 2013 emission data (see Figure ES.1), the less stringent ceilings of Annex I to the NECD have not been exceeded.

For NOX, the aggregated EU-27 emissions data are however above the respective Annex II ceiling for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2013, provisional emission data are slightly below the ceilings (see Figure ES.1). For NMVOCs, emission data of the year 2010 are above the ceiling, but for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Annex II emission ceiling is not exceeded. SO2 emission data of all years are below the levels of emissions ceilings.

Past emission trends
Under the NECD, Member States are formally obliged to submit only two years of emission data. This hampers any reliable assessment of long-term emission trends (either within individual Member States or for the EU as a whole). Nevertheless, several Member States voluntarily submit updated emission data under NECD reporting for all years as far back as 1990. These EU Member States declare considerable emission reductions of the four NECD pollutants since 1990. A more complete picture of past emission trends in the EU will be provided in mid-2015 when the EEA will publish the annual EU emission report under the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP Convention) (EEA, 2015a).

Completeness of data reporting

a) Pollutant–source combinations not included in the original 2010 emission ceilings
Since the original 2010 emissions ceilings were set, improved knowledge has become available on the sources of air pollutants. In several instances, 'new' emission source categories for the pollutants covered within the scope of the NECD have been identified; in some cases, based on measurements, emission factors have been developed (e.g. for NOX and NMVOC emissions in the agriculture sector) that allow emission estimates to be made.

As in 2014, this report focuses on NOX and NMVOC emissions from the agriculture sector as examples of source categories which were not considered when the targets were set, but for which emission inventory guidance is now available (EMEP/EEA, 2013). The aim is to assess the magnitude of these emissions as compared with National Totals, and attainment with national emission ceilings. At EU-27 level, NOX and NMVOC emissions from the agriculture sector amount to 2.4% and 8.5% of total emissions in 2013, respectively.

Based on NOX emission estimates for 2013 as provided by 21 Member States, NOX from agriculture contributes to maximal 11% to the respective National Totals. The exclusion from the National Total of NOX emitted by the agriculture sector would not by itself change the attainment status of any Member State.

However, NMVOC emissions from agriculture for 2013 (as provided by 23 Member States) have a higher contribution, up to 47% of the National Total emissions. The exclusion from NMVOCs emitted by the agriculture sector from the National Total would change the attainment status of three Member States (Denmark, Germany and Ireland), i.e. these countries would not meet their ceilings. In the year 2010, excluding NMVOC data from the agriculture sector would have brought the EU emissions below the EU Annex II ceiling. The same is true for NOX emissions in the year 2012.

A second analysis was performed to assess the number of Member States that report NH3 emissions from the 'new' sources '3Da4 — Crop residues applied to soil' and '3De — Cultivated crops'. Data from these categories were reported by only three Member States for the year 2013. The share of National Total NH3 emissions was highest for Denmark (7%); here excluding NH3 emissions of these categories from the National Total would change the attainment status of Denmark and Austria, i.e. the NH3 ceiling would be achieved if this category was excluded from the National Totals.

The two examples mentioned above show that incomplete reporting coupled with the apparent significant contribution of such sources to National Totals causes emissions to be underestimated in a number of Member States, in some cases significantly so.

b) 'Not estimated' emissions

The reporting guidelines of the LRTAP Convention (UNECE, 2014a) (and through Annex III of the NECD, by extension applicable also to reporting under this EU directive) allow Member States to report emissions as 'not estimated' (NE) for sectors where emissions are known to occur but have not been calculated or reported. Ideally 'NE' should only be used for sources that are very small, where, for example, it may be less cost-effective to develop a specific estimation methodology than to improve the accuracy of estimates for more significant sources.

By definition, use of the 'NE' notation key means national inventories are incomplete; emission totals are therefore underestimated. Seventeen Member States used the notation key 'NE' for more than 10 source categories. Only nine Member States provided reasons for using it in their data submissions under the NECD, and it should be noted that Member States provided more information under their LRTAP Convention submissions (the reporting deadline was 15 February). However, the information provided varied somewhat in terms of informative value.

Transparency of reported information

Providing inventory reports or additional explanatory information that describes the methods and sources of the reported data is not mandatory under the NECD; this limits the transparency of the data submission. Nevertheless, 11 Member States (Austria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden) voluntarily submitted inventory reports alongside their NECD inventories.

Public access to data and reports

Data described in this report are available from the EEA online data viewer (EEA, 2015b).

The EEA also publishes individual air pollution fact sheets (e.g. EEA, 2014b) for each Member State, providing additional analyses of various parameters; these include current progress made in achieving the respective emission ceilings for each pollutant. Updated fact sheets will be published by the EEA in the autumn of 2015.

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