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Air quality in Europe is slowly improving. However, between 2000 and 2014, a significant proportion of the urban population in the EU-28 was exposed to concentrations of certain air pollutants above the EU limit or target values. The numbers of people exposed were even higher in relation to the more stringent World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guideline values set for the protection of human health.
For fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ), 8 - 17 % of the urban population were exposed to concentrations in excess of the EU target value, while 85 - 97 % were exposed to concentrations above the WHO guideline value (for 2006-2014 only).
For particulate matter (PM 10 ), the respective exposure estimates were 16 - 42% for the EU limit value and 50 - 92 % for the WHO guideline value.
For ozone (O 3 ), estimates was 8 - 55 % for the EU target value and 94 - 99 % for the WHO guideline value.
For nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ), estimates were 7 - 31 % in both cases (EU limit value and WHO guideline).
For benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), estimates were 17 - 24 % for the EU target value and 81 - 91 % for the estimated reference level (for 2008-2014 only).
Rivers and lakes located in European cities and towns are getting cleaner thanks to improvements in waste water treatment and restoration projects which have brought many waterways back to life. New forms of water management contribute to make our cities greener, smarter and more sustainable, but key challenges remain, according to a new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) released today.
Most European cities have at least one river or lake crossing their urban landscape. Urbanisation has come at a cost to rivers and lakes, as they have been heavily degraded to enable development, carry waste, supply drinking water and facilitate transport and industry.
The gradient of the accumulated ozone exposure values for forests, over a threshold of 40 parts per billion (AOT40f), is similar to that of the AOT40c (crops). AOT40f increases from northern Europe to reach the highest values in the countries around the Mediterranean.
In the EU-28, critical loads for acidification were exceeded in 7 % of the ecosystem area in 2010, down from 43 % in 1980 (and decreased to 7 % of the ecosystem area across all EEA member countries). There are still some areas where the interim objective for reducing acidification, as defined in the EU's National Emission Ceilings Directive, has not been met.
The EU-28 ecosystem area in which the critical loads for eutrophication were exceeded peaked at 84 % in 1990 and decreased to 63 % in 2010 (55 % in the EEA member countries). The area in exceedance is projected to further decrease to 54 % in 2020 for the EU-28 (48 % in the EEA member countries), assuming current legislation is implemented. The magnitude of the exceedances is also projected to decline considerably in most areas, except for a few 'hot spot' areas in western France and the border areas between the Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in northern Italy.
Looking forward, only 4 % of the EU-28 ecosystem area (3 % in EEA member countries) is projected to exceed acidification critical loads in 2020 if current legislation is fully implemented. The eutrophication reduction target set in the updated EU air pollution strategy proposed by the European Commission in late 2013, will be met by 2030 if it is assumed that all maximum technically feasible reduction measures are implemented, but it will not be met by current legislation.
For ozone, most of Europe's vegetation and agricultural crops are exposed to ozone levels that exceed the long term objective specified in the EU's Air Quality Directive. A significant fraction is also exposed to levels above the target value threshold defined in the directive. During the past five years, the fractions of agricultural crops above the target value were the lowest since 1996. In 2013, the fraction decreased to around the 21 %, compared with a relative peak of 27 % in 2012 . The effect-related concentrations show large year-to-year variations. Over the period 1996-2013, exposure increased until 2006, after which it decreased.
During the past five years, around two-thirds of the forest area was exposed to ozone concentrations above the critical level set by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe ( UNECE) for the protection of forests.
Accumulated ozone exposure values for crops, over a threshold of 40 parts per billion (AOT40c), increase from northern Europe to the southern Mediterranean countries.
Securing our need for food has become a major threat to the environment, driving increased emissions and over-exploitation of natural resources such as water, soil and fish. Our health and well-being have also been affected. Ensuring nutritious food for all in a fair and environmentally sound way has become a societal, economic and policy challenge across the world. A shared understanding of the food system and the roles different actors — policy makers, producers and other stakeholders in the food supply-chain — play will be crucial to a sustainable future, according to a new European Environment Agency report published today.
This report builds on a food system approach to explore the knowledge base, and the mesh of actors and activities that enable the EU to produce, trade and consume seafood. It then further assesses the implications of such a food system analysis for EU policy and knowledge development as a means to transform Europe's food system in line with sustainability goals. The report identifies three complementary pathways in the current EU food and seafood related policy framework, and the related knowledge base that can help support a more functional system.
The world’s population increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to around 7.3 billion in 2015, and is expected to continue to rise until 2050/2100 under most UN projection variants. Assuming the ‘medium fertility’ projection variant, global population might increase to 9.7 billion by 2050, and rise further to 11.2 billion by 2100. However, if fertility and mortality rates stay at current levels (i.e. assuming the ‘no change’ projection variant), growth rates are projected to be substantially higher, with global population possibly rising to 10.2 billion by 2050 and 19.3 billion by 2100.
The expected global population growth is projected to be largely driven by increases in Asia and particularly in Africa. While the Asian population is expected to peak by 2050, Africa’s population is projected to grow strongly and continuously, from 1.2 billion today to about 4.5 billion by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions.
The total population of the EU-28 is projected to increase slightly from 505 million currently to 510 million by 2030, and then to decrease in the subsequent decades to some 465 million by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions. The age structure is projected to change substantially, with an increase of the share of people aged 65 years or older from 19 % currently to 30 % by 2050 and further to 32 % by 2100, under ‘medium fertility’ assumptions.
The map shows the projected change in total population in the EEA and western Balkan countries, 2015 to 2100
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
PDF generated on 28 Oct 2016, 08:47 PM
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